Habit of helping
Bangkok | Thailand
We met Saks from the Broccoli Revolution during one of social entrepreneurship events organized in Bangkok. His energy caught our attention from the very beginning, so we asked him for an interview. He invited us to his restaurant the day after.
When I was young, my mother taught me: you have to help people. - says Saks Rouypirom, founder of the Broccoli Revolution. - I thought: if I want to help people, maybe I should be a doctor. I went for medicine. But during my studies I realized it's not for me. I like different things: art, food, this is number one. I finished my studies anyway, I actually studied in America. Then I started to think: maybe I come back to Thailand and open a charity here. In Thailand there is still a lot of poverty, many children who need help. I came back and I started Sati foundation. It was 5 years ago. We concentrated on preventing medicine, educating people about sanitation, and healthy eating. We are also organizing creativity programs, we teach children how to think outside the box, how to meditate, draw, different stuff. We empower poor families, we show them that their children can achieve something. We teach them to dream. We also give children scholarships, so they can continue education. One of our scholarship children is a 12-years-old tribe boy. He was born with HIV. When I met him, he was in 6 grade. His teacher said he is a very hard working student, coming every day with his pills; then after school he goes to help his parents at the farm and when they are sick, he drives them on motorbike two hours up the mountain. A small kid. I saw him and I looked at his eyes. Although he is only 12 years old, he is so experienced. So strong. This boy should be the most successful person in the world. But he may not be, just because he was born in these circumstances. He was born with sickness, without money. Even with that, though, he is able to succeed. Think about us: we have so much more, what’s our excuse to not succeed? Not help others? Not try to be a better person? He is my inspiration. Someone so small, with so many bad things happening in his life and yet so strong. We want to support people like that, give them opportunities, make them succeed.
But for that, you also need money.
I don’t like traditional charity models. It’s not so sustainable. We started to do different projects to see how we can earn money. We did some art auctions with local artists, they donated pictures and we could use the money for charity. We did events with sponsors, they donated some part of earnings from tickets. We did dinners with chefs who cooked from local products. And finally, with my partner, we started to think about something more stable. Do we want to have a restaurant? We like to eat and we like to eat organically.
Broccoli Revolution restaurant started to operate 10 months before our interview. And it is already sustainable.
We have normal problems like every business or every person. But so far it's pretty good. Although not many people understand our concept yet, it is new: social enterprise with vegan food. Most people come because they are curious to try. And this is the first step, make them realize vegan tastes like normal food. Then they start to notice that less meat can make them feel better. We don’t like to sell hard. We make it approachable and simple.
With this approach they actually manage to build community.
We have a lot of regular customers, we have a big response from them. Ultimately we want to be like a family: growth for us means growing as a community. This building has two other floors. On the second floor we want to open a social art gallery. Then, we organize different workshops, for example ceramic workshops. On the last floor we will do a vegetable garden. It will be a kind of lifestyle center. In fact, eating is a lifestyle. What you put in your body is part of your life.
In the Broccoli Revolution you put in your body not only vegan, but above all organic food produced in the north of Thailand.
Our products are mostly from Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, it’s cooler there and easier to grow vegetables. I also want to work with tribe schools. We've just started but if it works, I want schools to grow vegetables, so we can buy and they can have income. We will use their products in restaurants, extra we can sell to our customers and send them money back. It's not enough to teach them how to grow vegetables, you need to provide pipe, selling opportunities. We try to close the circle.
But being able to close the circle requires collaboration.
With social causes you have to be open-minded and ready to collaborate. A lot of businesses try to block other competitors, so they can grow. But for us it is about being open-minded and collaborating, find like-minded businesses, like-minded people and grow together. We all live together, we are in one world. We have problems in the world and they are not German problems or Thai problems, they are our problems. The moment we realize we share problems together we can also realize we have to find solutions together. And if you don’t know how to start…open your eyes. Be present in each moment. Look around. Be aware. That’s for me the best way to find problems and solve problems. There are issues everywhere, but we focus too much on ourselves.
Focusing on something more than ourselves should actually become our habit.
Helping people doesn’t have to be something strange. It’s like exercising. People know they should exercise, most of them, though, are too lazy to do this. But once they start, they feel better, they want to do it regularly, if they don’t, they miss something. The same can be with working on social causes. It doesn’t have to be for your birthday or something special, it can be a part of your daily life. There is no superman, one person saving the world. It’s everybody to do their part. It's for people to realize: I can make a difference. I can help this kid on the street and maybe this kid can help 10 other kids. When people realize that connection, they realize they can really do something.
More about Broccoli Revolution: broccolirevolution.com