Artisans Associations of Cambodia

by World Rehabilitation Fund
Artisans Associations of Cambodia
Artisans Associations of Cambodia
Artisans Associations of Cambodia
Artisans Associations of Cambodia
Artisans Associations of Cambodia
Artisans Associations of Cambodia
Artisans Associations of Cambodia
Artisans Associations of Cambodia
Artisans Associations of Cambodia
Artisans Associations of Cambodia

Dear old friends and new friends of the Artisans Association of Cambodia,

Some 15 years ago, the World Rehabilitation Fund (WRF) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) initiated the Artisans Association of Cambodia (AAC) to help those affected by landmines and other persons with disabilities to develop quality artisan products which we had determined would be attractive for international sales.   After a few years, AAC was able to develop as an independent Cambodian association completely managed by Cambodian personnel.   WRF has continued to provide financial support and technical assistance to AAC.

We have found over the years that the Artisans Association of Cambodia (AAC) has made a tremendous difference in the lives of Cambodian artisans with disabilities.   In order to help more people in need, the mission of the Association was changed to include other Cambodians who experienced disadvantage due to factors other than disability such as, widowhood, escape from human trafficking and other factors creating poverty.  We hope that you will continue to support this effort and that new persons just becoming aware of this program will be moved to help us continue this effort.  

Having begun the AAC with four member organizations employing nearly 100 persons with disabilities, the Association now has 48 members who employ over 4000 persons, the overwhelming majority of whom have come from disadvantaged backgrounds.  Over ¾ of the workers supported by the project are women, and women direct nearly 2/3 of the member organizations of AAC.  

Member organizations of AAC have presences in 10 different provincial areas of Cambodia.  These organizations strive to become social enterprises, having missions that involve both entrepreneurship and the promotion of social and economic benefit.  Another major focus of members is to promote the use of ecologically friendly methods in creating products.  Many of the groups have a strong focus on meeting the needs of women from vulnerable backgrounds and many members also have a major focus on the betterment of youth from impoverished backgrounds.

In our first year, AAC's four members showed sales of $250,000.  This year sales are over $4 million, far higher than the $3 million predicted for this year.

Through support from donors like yourselves, AAC will continue to provide training and technical assistance to further the design, production and marketing of member products.

Significant events of the period between January through March 2017 include the following:

  • Admittance of 6 new organizations as members of AAC including two groups from Siem Reap and four organizations from

Phnom Penh

  • Conduct of a training workshop on export marketing in collaboration with CBI Netherlands and Vietcraft
  • Training in the importance and development of specification sheets as a tool.
  • Provision of training in international marketing provided by a volunteer recruited from Delegation Catholique pour la Cooperation of France.
  • Provision of technical assistance in strategic communication for selected member organizations provided by a volunteer from GINKGO, the Frence volunteer organization.
  • Participation in trade shows in Thailand and Vietnam
  • Participation in local trade shows in Cambodia through cooperation with the Cambodia Ministry of Commerce
  • Interviews of the AAC Director, both on the subject of production and marketing of silk made products were held by two Cambodian newspapers-Reaksmey Kampuchea and the Khmer Times

Please check out the World Rehabilitation Fund website and examine the AAC catalog (link below) to learn more about the project and see the extraordinary handicrafts created by AAC artisans. 

Thank you once more for your continued support!  We look forward to sharing more about AAC's activities in the coming quarter.  Until then, please know that we are most grateful for your generous support.

Warmest regards,

The WRF Team

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AAC member, Cambodia
AAC member, Cambodia

Dear old friends and new friends of the Artisans Association of Cambodia,

Old friends know of the tremendous difference the Artisans Association of Cambodia (AAC) has made in the lives of Cambodian artisans who had come to the program from backgrounds of high disadvantage due to disability, widowhood and other factors creating poverty.  We hope that you will continue to support this effort and that new persons just becoming aware of this program will be moved to help us continue this effort. Created by the World Rehabilitation Fund some 15 years ago with members consisting of some 42 grass roots organizations, AAC supports some 2,700 artisans and staff, most of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds.  Over ¾ of the workers supported by the project are women, and women direct over half of the member organizations of AAC.  

Member organizations of AAC have presences in 10 different provincial areas of Cambodia.  Members are striving to becoming social enterprises, having missions that involve both entrepreneurship and promoting social and economic benefit.  Another major focus of members is to promote the use of ecologically friendly methods in creating products.  

Employees of member organizations include large numbers of persons with disabilities (which was the main focus originally of the program), persons with HIV, and victims of human trafficking.  Many of the groups have a strong focus on meeting the needs of women from vulnerable backgrounds and many members also have a major focus on the betterment of youth from impoverished backgrounds.

In our first year, AAC's four members showed sales of $250,000.  This year sales are over $4 million, far higher than the $3 million predicted for this year.

Through support from donors like yourselves, AAC will continue to provide training and technical assistance to further the design, production and marketing of member products.

Significant events of the previous period include the conduct of training in the following areas:

  • AAC was named by Corporate Vision for their Southeast Asian
    Business Award for 2017
  • AAC members participated in the Ministry of Commerce “Buy Khmer Product Campaign” in 4 different locales of the country
  • Three new Directors were elected to the AAC Board to serve three year terms starting in 2017
  • AAC members attended some 7 local trade fairs during this quarter
  • Connections were made with online social enterprises to promote AAC products
  • Aquarius Hotel of Phnom Penh has agreed to sell products of 5 AAC members in their hotel store

Technical assistance provided by AAC staff and consultants included:

  • AAC co-hosted a national workshop on “Export Promotion to Europe”
  • Several AAC members were provided technical assistance by AAC in the area of rebranding
  • Other technical assistance areas included: assistance in designing a catalogue of products; improving in-store retail design and practice; improving visual merchandising


Please check out the World Rehabilitation Fund website and examine the AAC catalog (link below) to learn more about the project and see the extraordinary handicrafts created by AAC artisans. 

Thank you once more for your continued support!  We look forward to sharing more about AAC's activities in the coming quarter. Until then, please know that we are most grateful for your generous support.

Warmest regards,

The WRF Team

 



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AAC artisan displaying her handicrafts.
AAC artisan displaying her handicrafts.

Dear old friends and new friends of the Artisans Association of Cambodia,

Old friends know of the tremendous difference the Artisans Association of Cambodia (AAC) has made in the lives of Cambodian artisans who had come to the program from backgrounds of high disadvantage due to disability, widowhood and other factors creating poverty.  We hope that you will continue to support this effort and that new persons just becoming aware of this program will be moved to help us continue this effort. Created by the World Rehabilitation Fund some 15 years ago with members consisting of some 42 grass roots organizations, AAC supports some 2,700 artisans and staff, most of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds.  Over ¾ of the workers supported by the project are women, and women direct over half of the member organizations of AAC.  

Member organizations of AAC have presences in 10 different provincial areas of Cambodia.  Members are striving to becoming social enterprises, having missions that involve both entrepreneurship and promoting social and economic benefit.  Another major focus of members is to promote the use of ecologically friendly methods in creating products.  

Employees of member organizations include large numbers of persons with disabilities (which was the main focus originally of the program), persons with HIV, and victims of human trafficking.  Many of the groups have a strong focus on meeting the needs of women from vulnerable backgrounds and many members also have a major focus on the betterment of youth from impoverished backgrounds.

In our first year, AAC's four members showed sales of $250,000.  This year sales are over $4 million, far higher than the $3 million predicted for this year.

Through support from donors like yourselves, AAC will continue to provide training and technical assistance to further the design, production and marketing of member products.

Significant events of the previous period include the conduct of training in the following areas:

  • making products more fashionable based on current international trends
  • using photography to enhance promotional materials
  • preparing textile collections to meet the interests of European markets
  • utilization of the internet and, especially, Facebook to promote products
  • setting up effective business practices in starting and improving a business enterprise

Technical assistance provided by AAC staff and consultants included:

  • strategies to becoming an effective social enterprise
  • complying with international safety and health standards
  • packaging products to maximize buyer appeal
  • strategies for ensuring proper export forwarding
  • developing effective displays for stores and trade fair presentations

Please check out the World Rehabilitation Fund website and examine the AAC catalog (link below) to learn more about the project and see the extraoridnary handicrafts created by AAC artisans. 

Thank you once more for your continued support!  We look forward to sharing more about AAC's activities in the coming quarter.   Until then, please know that we are most grateful for your generous support.

Warmest regards,

The WRF Team

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AAC member, landmine survivor.Photo: Burns Knierim
AAC member, landmine survivor.Photo: Burns Knierim

Dear Friends of the Artisans Association of Cambodia,

We hope that this update finds you well.  At the Artisans Association of Cambodia, we are happy to be in touch with you to share a few updates, and to give you more detail about how AAC is making a difference in the lives of thousands of vulnerable people. We hope that this update makes for inspirational summer reading!

The Artisans Association of Cambodia (AAC), a Fair Trade Association which benefits and is vastly represented by women, was formed by WRF in 2001 to support the development of crafts as a viable way of economic improvement of disadvantaged and disabled Cambodians, especially for women who are disabled, victims of trafficking, HIV positive, or single heads of families. The project supports 45 social enterprises in Cambodia who pay wages to over 2,700 Cambodian artisans, 76% of whom are women. Over half of the AAC member social enterprises have women Directors.

While the AAC was initially established to support persons with disabilities, the scope of the association rapidly expanded and the AAC began integrating persons with disabilities with other vulnerable communities in Cambodia, including single women, female headed households and landmine survivors. Consequently, the AAC has grown from a four-member group in 2001 into a 45-member umbrella association today. International sales have grown from $25,000 per year to over $3.1 million in 2015. Consequently, the increase in sales has led to higher incomes and greater economic independence for the AAC artisans. Moreover, we have witnessed an increase in the capacity and confidence of the AAC member organizations in terms of managing these social enterprises and networking locally, regionally and internationally with other artisan organizations and buyers.

By bringing the member organizations together, the AAC has opened possibilities for lower prices on raw materials, training programs to improve production and design, new marketing possibilities though public relations and participation in trade fairs, as well as technical assistance (TA) that assist the AAC member organizations to restructure as social enterprises and better manage their operations. Some of the areas of TA are export licensing, pricing, product display, purchasing, accounting and inventory control. These areas are especially important in helping to empower women who are traditionally far less exposed to management, business and financial education than men in Cambodian society.

This summer we have also seen:

  • More applications for AAC membership, with 45 active AAC members.
  • Growth in sales of all members (we are tabulating exact figures for June 2015-July 2016 but we estimate over $3,000,000 in sales).
  • AAC successfully consolidated shipments for buyers who placed orders from the members through AAC.
  • Those buyers have been imported products such as silk scarves, silk placemats and coaters, silk jewelry, cardholder, cattle horn jewelry, recycled paper journal & plastic bag organic soap, wood product.

Lastly, please see the WRF website and check out the amazing AAC catalog (link below)!

Thank you for your continued support!  We look forward to sharing more about AAC’s activities in the coming quarter.  Until then, please know that we are most grateful for your generous support.

Warmest regards,

The WRF Team

Links:

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Dear Friends of the Artisans Association of Cambodia,

We hope that this update finds you well and enjoying the onset of Spring.  At the Artisans Association of Cambodia (AAC), we are happy to share that this has been a season of growth for AAC and our members.

  • The most notable achievement thus far in 2016, was the 6th Annual Angkor Handicraft Fair January 14-17, 2016. AAC organized its annual Angkor Handicraft Fair from January 14 to 17, 2016 at the river garden in front of Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, Siem Reap city, Siem Reap province with an aim to promote Cambodian hand-made products that respect social and environmental values. The fair was daily open to public during the four-day from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. There were 47 booths from 40 organizations across Cambodia.
  • As a result of the Fair, AAC has been working with 13 buyers among those 3 are repeated buyers, 7 sample order buyers and three buyers just inquired about type of products and shipment procedure. Majorities are from USA and the rest are from Singapore, Japan, Australia, France and Germany, more detail information is in other sector of the report. In addition, we shared 100 copies of the AAC Catalog 2016 and AAC Member Profiles.
  • In collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce of Royal Government of Cambodia (MOC) AAC has gained following support:

 

  1. Exhibit booths at the pavilion at the Angkor Sankranta Event and Handicrafts and Souvenir Fair from April 13th, to 16th in front of Angkor Wat temple Siem Reap province. In this regard, AAC has drawn some supports from MOC to support 14 exhibitors.
  2. Two exhibit booths free of charge for Ta Prohm and Caring for Young Khmer/Pidan Khmer to attend the Bangkok International Gift Fair and Home Ware Fair in Bangkok Thailand from April 19th to 23rd, 2016
  3. Three nights hotel and local transportation from hotel to exhibition center and from exhibition center to hotel for 17 representatives from 9 AAC members that will be going with AAC for an exposure trip to visit the Bangkok International Gift Fair and Home Ware Fair and Accessory suppliers market in Bangkok from April 19th to April 22nd, 2016.

Additional highlights of the AAC's achievements this quarter include: 

  • Sales: The income generated through AAC trade facilitation was approximately $5,607.
  • Members: The total number of active AAC members is 45.
  • Workshops: AAC attended a workshop on “Celebration Home Based Workers Twenty Years and Time for Action” March 20th to 22nd, 2016 held at the Ramada Hotel, Ahmedabad, India. WIEGO and HomeNet South Asia jointly organized the event.
  • Technical Support: An individual internship from France has joined AAC since early February 2016 and will be ended by April 2016. She works on fair trade and working together with AAC she will assist with our application for the World Fair Trade Organization label.
  • Development Sans Frontier (DSF)/Development Without Border: DSF has sent two more volunteers in marketing and design to work with AAC since March 16, 2016 for 8 months and a designer will be coming to work for AAC in the first week of April 2016 until the end of November 2016.
  • Capacity Building: AAC has collaborated with Nomi Network in order to further capacitate AAC members through a joint organizing more trainings/workshops on Design and Market Access from June until November 2016.
  • Design Technical Support: AAC identified an interior designer and professional photographer from France to work with AAC members who are in need of display assistance at their shops, updates to their catalog or price list for marketing purposes. The interior designer has been creating a common catalog for four AAC members and hopefully the catalog will be completed by April.

Making an impact this quarter and planning for next quarter:

Trade Fairs:

  • Through collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) of Cambodia, AAC received support for two free booths for two of its members (Ta Prohm and Pidan Khmer) to attend the Bangkok International Gift Fair and Home Ware Fair (BIG & BIH) in Bangkok, Thailand from April 19th – 23rd, 2016.
  • AAC is in process of coordinataing more than 17 people from 9 member organizations for an exposure trip to visit the BIG & BIH fair and accessories market from April 19th to April 22nd, 2016. AAC met with the members explained the purpose of visit, program of the visit and logistics needed. AAC will meet with those groups after exposure trip to draw the lesson learnt as well as incorporated those lessons in their strategic plan.
  • Angkor Sankranta – Handicraft Souvenir fair from April 13th – 16th, 2016 in front of Angkor Wat Temple: AAC is able to gain support one pavilion 9 m x 9m for four AAC members to display and demonstrate the weaving technic, carving technic and the technic of producing silk necklace and 12 booths of 3mx3m for 10 AAC members to display products and sell. In addition to the booth support, AAC is able to convince the Ministry of Commerce to partially support the accommodation, food, transportation etc. in the amount of over USD3,000. 

Collaboration:

  • At least three of AAC members (Women for Women (WfW), Watthan Association Cambodia (WAC) and Artisans of Silver) attended the MOC-101 final pitch on February 27th, 2016 at the Ministry of Commerce of Cambodia.
  • In March, 2016, AAC had a discussion with Nomi Network on possible collaboration: Nomi is an NGO supported by US group and plans to organize several training session on Design and Marketing. AAC will first collaborate with Nomi in order to invite representatives from at least eight of all members to attend a morning session in June 2016 in Phnom Penh. More courses on marketing and design will follow this first collaboration. The June 2016 event will host a guest speaker who is the top executive from one of the largest retailer. We plan to have her discuss on the topics:
    • "What are buyers looking for?"
    • "How to communicate with buyers?"
    • "What are the trends in 2016 and beyond?"

AAC Member Catalogue and Profile:

  • Completed the development of catalogue and profile for all of AAC members and printed. AAC distributed those documents to all members, also plans to distribute them to potential supporters, donors, line ministries etc.

Capacity Building:

  • In collaboration with SHE International, AAC sent two of its members to attend new intake on Business Incubator Program 2016. The program runs for 6 months, 2-days per month. Topics that SHE International covers include: goal setting, business modeling, personal and business financial literacy, marketing, problem solving and leadership. This new program launch after a successful pilot last year. The cost of the course is $400, however SHE International offered full scholarships to both of them.

New Members:

  • In Siem Reap, AAC Director visited Genevieve’s Fair Trade Village (GFTV) on March 30th, 2016. Genevieve’s Fair Trade Village is an organization working solely with people with disabilities who made products from stone, wood and up cycled papers. Genevieve’s Fair Trade Village has drawing and painting projects. The purpose of joining AAC is to be able to network, receive information, assistance in diversifying products, and marketing. Most importantly GFTV wants AAC to build capacity of its current manager to be a good manager.

Challenges in 2016 and beyond that AAC and our Members continue to face:

            1) Decrease of Capacity of Production:

  • Garment Factories keep moving to provinces where weavers in those provinces are no longer interest in weaving, but work for garment factories.
  • Sewers begin to leave handicraft sector and work for garment factories because of socialization and simple for them.
  • Minimum wage is moving up and those workers enjoy overtime job and severance pay.
  • Sewers need engineering skills.
  • New generation seems reluctant in this sector, lack of interest.
  • The minimum wage regulated by the Cambodia government in 2015 was $USD128 per month for garment factory worker and in 2016 is $USD140 per month plus various bonuses. The government has planed to increase the minimum wage up to $USD160 or $USD180 for year 2018.

            2) Other challenges

  • AAC members lack of working capital for expansion their enterprises.
  • Designing/product development and marketing is a must.
  • Handicraft sector lacks of skilled producers due to migration, growth of handicraft shops, young generation is not interested in learning traditional skills e.g. weaving. Lack of program from both government and NGOs to encourage people to stay in handicraft sector.
  • Insufficiency of sericulture program, which led to low capacity of production of golden silk yarn and cotton.

Thank you for your continued support!  We look forward to sharing more about AAC’s activities in the coming quarter.  Until then, please know that we are most grateful for your generous support.

Warmest regards,

The WRF Team

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World Rehabilitation Fund

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