Economic Empowerment Fellowship – Education and Empowerment – Cambodia

Kind, generous, brilliant, and inspiring are a few words I would use to describe those I’ve met on this journey. We have been very busy interacting with students, community leaders, teachers, and business professionals across Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Our educational journey started on April 24th presenting to over 300 student, government officials, and school administrators at the Royal School of Administration. Our topic was "Best Practices in Strategic Management" and we stayed for some time after the program to ensure all questions were answered. And there were plenty of great questions including how to implement projects more effectively, best ways to motivate people to higher performance, strategies in developing a more unified collaboration between public and private sectors, and countless personal questions about setting and achieving goals.

Our second program was to the Phnom Penh International University. Close to 100 students in the early stage of their business administration, marketing, and management education were very interested in examples and stories about business start-ups, building personal leadership qualities, and how to apply what they are learning in their current jobs. I had fun getting participants actively involved in the program, sharing stories and business ideas with each other. Students shared their excitement to own hotels, food markets, retail stores, and NGOs.

The business empowerment workshops continued with presentations to approximately 50 members of the Young Entrepreneurs’ Club and students at Pannasastra University of Cambodia. One of the most advanced and fastest growing private schools in Cambodia, PU offers specialized education for over 30,000 students ranging from pre-school through masters level. We were hosted for two days by Dr. Chea San Chanthan, Ph.D. and his team on both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap campuses.

Our discussion regarding Business Ethics and Social Responsibility was well received and resulted in an additional program for 35 local hotel staff, managers, and owners.

Here we focused on the importance of leadership skills and best practices in tourism and hospitality. Individual participants brought forth challenges they face and we continued to use small and large group activities to encourage everyone to start putting what they learned to work. In addition to the group sessions, we were able to conduct several individual business visitations, taking tours, meeting staff, and providing on-site observations. Two of my favorite business visits were Soria Moria Boutigue Hotel and Khmer Touch Cuisine. Both are women-owned businesses and represent the desire and heart of the Cambodiam women to be empowered and empower others. Soria Moria Boutique Hotel is a small 38 room facility and one of the few 51% employee-owned businesses in the area. Khmer Touch Cuisine is a recently opened restaurant with a unique atmosphere featuring an open-kitchen design to ensure customer visually see the commitment to a high of quality food and a health environment.

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