The idea of the Zero Baht Shop located in Bangok’s Prawet district is rather simple, yet highly impactful: a place where no money is needed, but recyclable goods can be exchanged for other useful items.
It all started in a deprived area on the outskirts of Bangkok, where most people worked in the informal sector, doing jobs such as selling goods on boats, picking recyclables from waste, selling garlands on the street, or becoming day laborers. Their wages were earned daily, which made it impossible to rent a home.
When in 2001 local government officials decided to relocate the community, Peerathorn Seniwong, known as P’Thorn, acted as community leader helping organize people and leading the negotiations over the move. Working together as a community, rather than as individuals, gave them collective bargaining power in a way that they had not previously experienced – a lesson that would provide the foundation for the business P’Thorn would later create.