The second instalment of the Equity Partnership entered its next phase in late November, with international schools from around Bangkok making their respective field trips to rural schools to discover what products they would be selling on JD Central’s platform. In the case of six Shrewsbury students, Pomelo infused soap is the product they will be working with, and the challenge is making that attractive to online shoppers.
After a long drive, four hours North to the province of Chai Nat, staff and students from Shrewsbury arrived at Banchatfang school ready to learn about the unique product they would be working with. After a warm welcome, their hosts kindly showed them the entire process of making their locally famous Pomelo soap, made from the skin of the largest, and some say tastiest, citrus fruit on the planet.
Students were invited to add different scents and personalise the soap with decorative pictures, so they understood the process in its entirety. Upon pulling each soap from its moulds, students talked with teachers from both schools about what other products Banchatfang school sold with the soap. Often, they will sell shampoos, dishwashing liquid and fresheners - all with the central theme of ‘Citrus Grandes’ or Pomelo running through it.
After an excellent lunch provided by the hosts, the real work then began. Students from both schools started the process of working out how to present and market the product so that it would have the best chance of being successful on JD Central’s online platform. It was immediately apparent that factors such as the online marketability of soap as a standalone item would be a difficult sell. Considering a short selling period, the target customer with an average purchase of between six and eight-hundred baht, it was suggested that a gift set, containing several different elements, would be an altogether more valuable proposition.
Work then began on the first ideas of branding. Lush, green natural imagery was instantly agreed upon as the right course of action given the location in which the Pomelo grows. The cooperation between the students from both schools was evident, a hallmark the Equity Partnership is fast becoming known for, much to the pleasure of teachers and Equity Partnership co-founder, Mr Greg Threlfall.
“It is such a fantastic experience to bear witness to young people from different walks of life, coming together to create something from scratch and then having an opportunity to sell it on one of the largest online platforms in Thailand. What we are encouraging is entrepreneurial intelligence in young people while simultaneously promoting equitable education -so seeing these aims come to life is very rewarding,” he enthused.
While students in Chai Nat immersed themselves in a world of Pomelo soap-related challenges, 400 kilometres away in Buriram, another Shrewsbury group, in collaboration with Charoensuk school, focused on textiles created from volcanic soil-dyed cloth and traditional weaving methods. Exposed to the process from start to finish, students can now formulate a story that would aid the marketability of the product.
“This opportunity is like no other, in that it gives students the chance to travel outside of Bangkok, meet local students who become teammates and then work with those teammates to market, brand and sell unique products. Our students, whether it be in Chai Nat or Buriram, creating Pomelo-scented soap or traditional textiles, are truly getting a unique and rewarding experience that benefits whole communities,” Mr Threlfall explained.
The next phase of the partnership is to keep in contact and refine the marketability of the product before a series of workshops hosted by JD Central, right before Christmas. Having produced a prototype prior to the workshops, students will be given expert advice from industry professionals who will help each team polish their product before it is sold online during the holiday period.