M.L. Dispanadda Diskul (Duke) is the Chief Executive Officer of Mae Fah Luang Foundation. He has an extensive background in sustainable development having been in charge of the foundation's rural development initiatives both domestically and internationally. He leads the strategic mission and vision, and is the key representative disseminating the foundation's core principles and knowledge as well as advising on policy in major forums. Duke oversees the foundation's flagship social enterprise, the Doi Tung Development Project and the brand's five different social businesses. He is very active in the Thailand social enterprise scene where he is a member of Thailand Social Enterprise Board. In 2019, he co-founded and was elected President of the Social Enterprise Thailand Association (SE Thailand), a platform to help build capacity for new enterprises in Thailand. Duke has a Masters in Business Administration from Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration of Chulalongkorn University.
Doi Tung Development Project
The Doi Tung Development Project (DTDP) is administered by the Mae Fah Luang Foundation (MFLF), a Thai non-profit organization working to improve the livelihoods of marginalized communities through social services and entrepreneurship. DTDP aims to foster harmonious coexistence between humans and nature. The project was established in northern Thailand, a region that previously led the world's illicit opium poppy production. The project's main objective was to create new livelihood opportunities for the people to emerge from the vicious cycle of poverty, sickness and lack of knowledge by helping the people to help themselves.
The first phase of the project was to carry out social activities that stabilize the community. Once achieved, the project focused on capacity building and skills training for communities to secure alternative livelihood opportunities. Concurrently, the concept of social entrepreneurship was applied, establishing five different social businesses under the Doi Tung brand in the areas of agro-processing, horticulture, handicrafts, cafes and tourism. The profits of these social businesses are redirected towards social development activities for the Doi Tung community. The project resulted in a drastic reduction of opium poppy production. To further elevate the work, Doi Tung partnered with well-established corporations like IKEA, MUJI, Kaldi, Micafeto and Ishimitsu, a Japanese coffee expert, to improve quality and standards and bring local products to global markets.
The significant improvement in the overall well-being of the community – economically, socially and environmentally – has led to the implementation of this approach in several outreach projects in Myanmar, Afghanistan and Indonesia, and additional projects in Thailand. In Nan, a watershed area of Thailand, the foundation implemented a full-scale developmental reforestation project that is now the national reforestation model, linking conservation to carbon credit initiatives. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has recognized MFLF and the DTDP model as a successful example of addressing the illicit drug cultivation problem and alleviating poverty.