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They also run a rehabilitation program from the Community Work Skills Center, built inwhere the girls are taught how to weave on traditional hand looms. This allows the girls to learn skills that are culturally respected and provides them with an opportunity to escape the poverty cycle. Providing them with this safe environment and support network completely transforms their confidence and self-esteem.
By creating a social enterprise, Takeo Trust has been able to open these girls up to the international market as micro producers and allowed themselves, their families and community to benefit immensely.
Takeo Trust makes an amazing effort to focus on the girls in school as well, to make sure they are on the right path to perhaps go on to a university. If a girl decides to go to a university, Takeo Trust covers the cost of university tuition, university housing, school books and medical expenses. In alone, they sent four of their eldest girls to a university to further their education- this was ly unthinkable given their circumstances. Last year alone they helped approximately children up to grade six, teaching the poorest of the poor.
The area where the school is and where they live, Stung Meanchey, was originally deated as landfill for the capital Phnom Penh. The social enterprise model comes from their handmade scarves that the girls have learned how to create. Making them not only very special, but more durable and colorfast compared with machine made products. Each product takes several hours to make. Takeo Trust will have a of other exciting products on the way as well, including handwoven skirts!
Below is an interview the amazing founder of Takeo Trust, Sarah Knight, who started working in Cambodia at 20 years old and has since built an amazing social enterprise impacting the lives of women everyday. I was brought to the country to visit the Takeo Trust scarf weaving center which was built by someone close to me who tragically died before realizing his dream of the center. During the building of the center, I was asked to become involved as a project manager.
I fell completely in love with Cambodia after seeing how people with so little materially had so much love and positivity. I realized that in Australia, many people have so much, but take it for granted and I wanted to adopt the Cambodian attitude of gratuity. We oversee what comes after experiences like sex trafficking and child labor. Takeo Province lies close to the border of Vietnam which is where many pimps will go to take advantage of vulnerable children and families living in poverty. Ex-military groups work all over SE Asia raiding illegal brothels and bringing child sexual abusers to justice.
However, once these children return home they face stigma, discrimination and have a sense of worthlessness.
We aim to stop this through our rehabilitation program. Since we started the program pimps and traffickers have stopped targeting this area, yet many children are still engaged in child labor which we also target. We are now hoping to expand the program to all women in the area, enabling them to become financially independent, and cutting the cycle of abuse at its roots. I think the girls have been absolutely blown away and empowered by the incredible support of the Australian community. Knowing there are people on the other side of the world who believe in them and want to help them has made them feel worthy, loved and confident again.
When the girls realized how much we wanted to help and enable them to become masters of their own futures, their whole outlook on life changed. They are absolutely driven by the fact people come from all over the world to visit the center and cheer them on. The whole community has gotten behind the center as they know the children there will become independent and self-determined, they see it as an incredible opportunity.
Our approach to social enterprise at Takeo Trust is to stop the cycle of inter generational poverty and subsequent abuse of human rights, that is so often the outcome for people living in vulnerable situations. We must empower these girls to be independent. Social enterprise for us is about helping these girls to eventually be completely independent.
Meet takeo trust, a social enterprise bringing hope to victims of sex trafficking
Weaving gives them a practical skill which they can use to exit the poverty cycle. By selling their goods overseas we are able to get them much needed funds for tertiary education or their own business. The reality is, people in Australia love the products they are making. This makes the girls feel meaningful, but also enables our consumers to feel good about their purchase, and give back. At the end of the day we hope to be able to make our center self-sustaining through social enterprise.
Scarves are produced in factories across Cambodia ensuring the price is kept low. But these scarves are unique in Australia, so it made sense to start selling them here and directing the funds back to the center.
We have faced many barriers, for example land ownership. This will enable us to overcome another barrier which is that we struggle to get corporate sponsors without tax-deductible status. Amazingly, Sydney based law firm Clayton Utz has been thrilled to work with us pro-bono to achieve this goal. We are so grateful to them.
To have such an incredibly highly respected law firm and wide network of experts supporting us is a game changer. The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive and is a testament to the good work we do.
The girls were initially wary that we were just another organisation coming to build infrastructure without staying around to equip them with the skills required for its success. The community in Takeo has really gotten behind us, especially the mothers of the girls we care for. They are often at the center, helping cook a meal for the girls or simply lending a hand.
The volunteer program is something we are extremely proud of.
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It is vital to our success. When they buy a scarf they are changing a life for the better. What better way to get our story out there than by encouraging people from all over the world to volunteer with us? Typically young people will volunteer with us for a short period of time, visiting the center, meeting the girls, learning to weave with them and enjoying a meal together. Volunteers walk away feeling extremely humbled, amazed and ready to share the story with the world.
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In the future, we hope to recruit volunteers with specific skills and training relevant to helping the community. Examples of this would be health care workers, social workers and teachers. Grant is the founder of Causeartist, one of the most influential impact business platforms in the world. SinceCauseartist has been read in over countries.
Grant has personally interviewed over impact entrepreneurs from around the world, highlighting innovations in ethical fashion, climate change, ethical technology, impact investing, and sustainable travel. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Discover how people like you are making a difference in the world of social enterprise and social impact. Subscribe to the Causeartist newsletter. Grant Trahant Grant is the founder of Causeartist, one of the most influential impact business platforms in the world.