Cambodia

Introduction

Cambodia is often known for its turbulent history concerning the Khmer Rouge during the 1970’s. However previously to this, it is a country with a rich history of the mighty empires of the Angkor Wat temples, rich culture in arts and heritage and later the Indo Chine rule. 

Today Cambodia is a country stricken with poverty which is evident everywhere you look. More than 30% of Cambodia’s population lives below the poverty line, this percentage is even higher for Cambodians living in rural areas who are mainly subsistence farmers relying on agriculture, fishing and forests to meet their daily needs. As Cambodia has a rich history of craftsmanship such as silk weaving, basketry, silversmiths etc these skills have been rediscovered and many organizations are now promoting these skills as a way out of poverty to earn enough money to provide for their families and send their children to school. We are working with several of these groups to provide a fair deal for their produce and give them hope for the future.

Sources: Oxfam, CIA

WAC

WAC is a group of Cambodian artisans with disabilities due to polio or land mines. The cooperative concentrates on training and developing new members in handicrafts and fine woodcarving providing hope and empowerment to people with disabilities. Their goal is to improve the living standard of people with disabilities in Cambodia.

They support fair wages and benefits for Cambodian artisans with disabilities. Their profits are shared by the staff and producers and are re-invested in staff development and training. Furthermore, they aim to increase awareness surrounding people with disabilities and all the issues pertaining to them. At WAC they focus on their abilities rather than their disabilities.

Ta Phrom

Ta Phrom is a small family run business set up by a Cambodian couple who both have disabilities and wanted to help empower other people who were unable to find work due to their disabilities. They set up a sewing workshop providing regular work for several vulnerable people affected by land mines or polio. Now they have a small shop and they are gaining more sales through exports. Their workshop provides accommodation and food and a regular fair income for the people they employ. Ta Phrom is a great success story of how a small enterprise started by a few ambitious people can really make a difference as they stared with very little and now have a small workshop and are hoping to keep expanding.

Nyemo

Nyemo is an NGO that aims to improve the quality of life for vulnerable women and their children through sustainable social and economic reintegration programs. Women can enter a reintegration program at Nyemo Cambodia which offers a series of vocational training possibilities, a place to live, medical counseling, social counseling, education, child care and child schooling. Skills gained during the training programs can be used in income generating activities at Nyemo's commercial wing, jobs through the career development agency or micro-credit can be provided for the women to set up their own business. Nyemo’s commercial wing generates profit to support the vulnerable women attending its vocation trainings. 



SWDC

SWDC is a NGO located in a remote province of North East of Cambodia. Their project focuses on developing life skills that assist in breaking the cycle of poverty for vulnerable people, especially women in their region. Their program offers vocational training and employment through their weaving centre. Within the centre they offer literacy training, health education, child care, food distribution and vocational training in weaving, sewing and carpentry. Their silk is becoming regarded as one of the finest silk products in Cambodia due to its high quality. As the area is so remote there is very little work and SWDC is a lifeline for many people to earn an income to support their families. At Fair Trade Interiors we work with SWDC to create a beautiful unique range of home textiles.

CCC

CCC is an association representing the interests of small businesses involved in craft production in Cambodia. CCC are working towards poverty alleviation through various activities, such as marketing support, holding workshops on micro enterprises, craft design; provided advanced training on technology and management and participated in trade fairs and exhibitions at home and abroad. CCC enables small local producers to reach international buyers which they would not be able to do on their own due to inexperience, capital and language barriers. At Fair Trade Interiors we are working with CCC to create a unique range of silk home accessories using some of these precious skills. 

Lotus Pond

Lotus Pond has been working with Cambodian artisans for many years. They work closely with several groups of producers in many remote areas of Cambodia. By working at grass route level they aim to provide jobs for venerable people in areas that are desperate for income generating activities. They promote traditional techniques that have too often been lost in Cambodia but are also keen to help producers develop new innovative ways to improve.
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