“Origi,” a Platform That Will Revitalize Local Products and Create Sustainable Growth for All
Youth Co:Lab 2021 was the first event that UNDP in Thailand hosted 100% online, as the transmission of COVID-19 at the time of the event remained severely high, making in-person gatherings too perilous to take place. Although a number of young participants were faced with the issue of limited access to the internet, we found out that online training did allow all the teams to focus on their projects without any travel burden. Instead of spending time commuting from place to place, they discussed their project or visited their target groups for more information. It is impossible to deny that technology has now emerged as the 5th basic need of humans, determining the trajectory of everyone’s life. Technology can also reduce societal inequality, those with access to the internet can also access opportunities to learn, to generate income, or to publicly express one’s true, authentic self.
‘Origi,’ one of the top 5 finalists of Youth Co:Lab 2021, began after 3 like-minded individuals, who met each other through Design Thinking teaching sessions, decided to get together. ‘Sang-sang’, one of Origi’s team members, told us that she also applied for Youth Co:Lab back in 2017, but her team did not pass the preliminary round. This time, Sang-sang asked ‘Preme’ and ‘Aye’ to join her team, as the three of them shared the same ideals of societal transformation. Upon learning about Youth Co:Lab’s call for application, they decided to conceptualize their work plan separately, before exchanging their ideas with each other, making their project inclusive of everyone’s vision. One idea that they shared was making use of their business strategization and marketing skills in the development of local products, as all of them had expertise in this area, from marketing, finance, to brand-building with sustainability at the heart of the operation.
‘Aye’ explained that the critical COVID-19 situation motivated them to develop the project in response to the pandemic crisis. Although some businesses did not suffer from the economic recession brought by the outbreak, artisans in various communities were clearly struggling to keep up with the changing scenario when the team started out with their project. ‘Aye,’ a team member currently living in the US, believed that communication, brand-building, and utilization of technology were able to eliminate the remaining barriers, and allow everyone to attain the opportunities they deserved. With this determination, Origi thus came into existence.
In order to help us understand the team’s operation better, ‘Preme’ explained that Origi had 2 work sections. The first one consisted of field visits and coordination with the communities that developed local products, particularly artisanal crafts, Origi’s target product. The team saw that each creation contained unique charm and a wealth of intricate culture, passed from one generation to the next. Not only the three of them reached out to the local communities with questions about pricing, they also dived into the issue of brand-building, and explained to the communities the purpose of Origi, and the role they intended to play in expanding the communities’ pools of clients.
Origi’s second work section was creating digital assets in the form of social media platforms and Origi’s website, their official online store. ‘Preme’ elaborated further that there were no restrictions or specific requirements regarding products sold on their platforms. After discussing with the local communities, she found out that the needs of each community differed greatly. Some communities had a decent productive capacity, but suffered from brand weakness. For this case, the team would step in and help strategize a marketing plan. On the other hand, some wished to strictly focus on production, not brand-building. ‘Origi’ would become the brand that represented such artisans, leaving a memorable impression on clients and building a brand asset at the same time. Therefore, Origi’s strengths came from the maximization of existing resources, adding only the missing parts as a way to reinforce the ecosystem of local markets. The digital platform would serve as an online marketplace that opened the door to domestic and international clients alike.
When asked about the team’s expectations on the project outcome during Youth Co:Lab 2021, ‘Sang-sang’ replied that they aimed for the prototypical model of this project. They would start by sourcing local products, notably food, during the experimental phase, as this type of product was considered the easiest item to obtain and sell. Firstly, the team would focus their attention on products from Northern and Northeastern regions, because they were already in touch with the communities from these areas. After a trial period, they would conduct product evaluation to see which type of product had growth potential the most. The results would be incorporated into the new project plan accordingly.
Although this is not the first time local products play a major role in representing the communities, we rarely see the establishment of a one-stop system that endorses the sustainability of local identity. Profits or wealth are not the definitive end goal everyone pursues, it is the continuation of local creations, supported by a loyal customer base. At the end of the interview, the three of them added that they wanted Origi to be the ally of the local communities, enhancing equality and helping Thai people notice the true values of these products. They promised to do their best, with their dreams of taking local crafts to the international level. For any reader who would like to present any product from their community or others’, this team is delighted and waiting for you to reach out to them.