Wee – Arnuwee Kuwing, a young man from Yala Province, one of the Southern Border Provinces of Thailand, lived under poor family conditions, with a father who had unstable employment having to feed five family members. This motivated Wee to follow his dream of becoming a barber. With a small amount of money from his mother, Wee went to Bangkok to learn to be a barber, in the hope of returning to help feed his family. However, with such little money, he could only afford to attend one short hairdressing course. He then followed his dream through self-learning through the help of YouTube and free online courses until he was good enough to operate a mobile barber service for communities.
Following UNDP’s call for proposals to receive a Japanese government funded grant supporting vulnerable groups who are affected by COVID-19, Wee saw an opportunity to jumpstart his barber business. He started to solicit the help of his unemployed friends who had lost their jobs and migrated from Malaysia due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wee acted as a coach and provided peer support to his friends who joined his newly established project, entitled “Social entrepreneur incubation and capacity-Building; changing the role of receivers to become givers through sustainable ways of living”. The project aims to build capacity for younger workers in Satun and the four Southern Border Provinces, while teaching them to become new social entrepreneurs. A mechanism to help vulnerable populations in the area was established as a result of the project using the social enterprise business model exercised and manifested under “The Southern Volunteers Association” which received seed funding in the amount of THB15,000 each (approximately USD 480). It is hoped that this project will also empower young people to take part in capacity-building workshops, learning marketing and communication skills to support the community. These projects have helped to develop and support barbers to provide service to the community, while also offering free services to orphans, the poor, and the elderly.
"I and my three friends now can take care of ourselves and our parents. We are no longer unemployed teenagers anymore. Opportunities provided from this project helped us build our careers, it turned teenagers’ dreams into reality. Though it is not a lot of income, at least we have a job. We can earn money to support ourselves and our families. Most importantly, we are happy and willing to provide free haircuts for the poor, elderly, and children in our community,” said Wee.
This project is one of the 24 projects run within the framework of the project entitled “Strengthening socio-economic recovery, human security and resilience in Thailand in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak ensuring to leave no one behind and safeguard the progress made towards the SDGs”, financially supported by the Government of Japan ,implemented by UNDP in Thailand
In May 2021, the group opened a barbershop in the community and members are now learning and practicing various styles of hairdressing. Wee, who is now the group leader, is also providing barber services to community members with two affordable price options: THB 30 (approximately USD 0.96) for a haircut in the shop and THB 40 (approximately USD1.28) for the mobile service. In the future, once the shop premises have been fully constructed, the group will provide a reservation service.
Visit Wee Barber Delivery. Tel +6692 774 4013
Story in Thai version read here.
Written by By Southern Volunteer Association