Economic Empowerment Fellowship – Lasting Friendships and Cultural Understanding – Cambodia

My time in Cambodia has sadly drawn to an end! The past two weeks were packed with educational opportunities, building of new relationships, and my gaining a stronger understanding of the social, economic, environmental, and spiritual elements that shape this wonderful country. Perhaps the best outcome is the newly launched Cambodian Pride Campaign! We (Sok En Huong, Sokny Kim, Chhuny Noem, and myself) came up with the idea over a couple of days of challenging discussions about the real power individuals have to make a difference. Whether in a tuktuk driving between appointments, walking out of Angkor Wat after watching the sunrise, or spending our final moments together, we couldn’t stop talking about the power of small actions both personally and professionally.

(Sokny Kim and I working on Cambodia P.R.I.D.E. Campaign and her catering service business strategy)

The energy continued to build and before I knew it, Chhuny had launched a facebook page and started calling upon friends, Sok En had secured a domain name, and Sokny had framed a launching strategy and logo design. The actions of these three individuals, over a matter of days, are sure to motivate individuals, business owners, and their social network to join together in addressing issues impacting Cambodia. The first issue they wanted to tackle is reducing the amount of trash left unattended. They came up with a name "Two Minutes for Mother Earth" as the main theme. With close to 300 likes and over 3,000 reaches they are well on their way to spreading the world.

(Participants in Business Leadership Program take action after our session by accepting the two-minute challenge.)

(Team members from Soria Moria Boutigue Hotel accepting the two-minute challenge.)

The friends made over this short time will be forever in my heart. Sokny Kim and her family graciously opened their home and helped me understand the costs and benefits of owning a small catering business.

The business, started by her mother from scratch, has a strong reputation for high quality food with traditional spicy flavoring. They can serve up to 1,000 guests per weddings and during busy season can have up to 20 weddings per month. Each wedding takes days of final preparation including creating the venue, moving in equipment and supplies, hiring and training the staff, and preparing the food at times in outdoor self-made kitchens.

(Inventory Is stored at the family residence and moved to and from every event)

Sokny clearly sees a new future for the family business. A future that embraces modern conveniences, expands into the commercial market, and upholds many traditions that make the business unique. We spent quality time talking about the alternatives and developing a three year strategy.

Thank you again to the U.S. Department of State Fellowship Program, The Mansfield Center of the University of Montana, YSEALI, and my hosts! It is the end of a wonderful trip…and the beginning of a long journey together. My very best to all! Colleen


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