A few years ago, we had a vision to co create a social business that could empower families in developing countries. Through our development work in Asia and Africa, we had found that most of the development initiatives had failed and we were looking for the answers. We came across Ernesto Sirolli’s great TED talk which inspired us to follow our dreams by creating micro enterprises in Cambodia.
Watch this short video that outlines our business model and we hope it inspires you to get involved by supporting some of our projects
Getting to know Cambodia
Our first week in Cambodia has been an eye opening experience into a wonderful and intriguing country. In order to try and understand the culture better we decided to visit the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek Genocidal Center which we found very chilling yet emotional. It was difficult to comprehend that during the time of the Khmer Rouge regime almost two million people were murdered.
We also visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum also known as Security Prison 21 where civilians were brought to be tortured before they were transported to the Killing Fields. The museum was eerie and overwhelming as you got to see the portraits of many of the victims who were cruelly tortured and murdered by the Khmer Rouge. Despite such a recent and extremely brutal genocide, Cambodians remain a very gentle and good natured people and are willing to go out of their way to help you and make you feel welcome. Since we arrived, we have talked to several people who experienced the terrible genocide and it is clear that these events have left mental scars on much of the population. In many ways, the events have inspired people in Cambodia to look beyond the despair to take control of their own destiny and we have been lucky enough to meet such people.
We have met with families, students, single mothers, successful business women and men, disabled women, teachers, village chiefs, elderly men and women, all of whom have made a choice to change their lives and the lives of their communities in very positive ways. It is their dream to see more positive changes and growth in their country now and in the near future. They have chosen to take responsibility for their lives and in doing so have inspired their children, neighbours, students and us too.
As a developing country, Cambodia still have a long way to come in terms of eliminating extreme poverty, developing educational and healthcare infrastructures and creating a stable political and economic foundation. There are thousands of people who want to see and become this positive change but they lack the confidence and necessary tools to do so. This is where Sonas can step in and provide them with small loans and the necessary mentoring to create an opportunity for them to make this change. By providing safe and modest capital to these people, you are giving them a chance to change their life and the life of their family or community for the better. We hope you will give a small loan to one of the entrepreneurs and in doing so help build a more sustainable and
hopeful future for the people of Cambodia.
Honey Badger Tribe
At Sonas, we like to talk about honey badgers. You may have noticed the small honey badger hanging out on our website. We admire the honey badger
and are inspired by its resilience and never-give-up attitude. In fact, when we came to Cambodia we realized that honey badgers were everywhere. Just have a look at the Sonas projects and you will see a few. Since we arrived in Cambodia, we have been building our honey badger tribe which you too can become a part of! The honey badger tribe not only includes the entrepreneurs we work with but the people who have supported these projects from the local social workers and teachers we work with, to those who have lent or donated money and given their time and energy.
Through our work, we wish to empower people to take their first steps out of poverty, not through hand-outs or short-term solutions, but by instilling belief and helping to achieve a sustainable and long-term solution. This can be difficult for some
to envision, which is why we work with honey badgers who have the desire to improve the livelihood for themselves and their family. In doing so they inspire their neighbors, children, brothers, cousins, and others in the community. This is what we call the multiplier effect!! Their success inspires others to set up their own small business, learn new skills and become financially independent.
We have come across many of these people with the honey badger attitude, full of passion and a desire to make a difference in their lives and in the lives of others. These women and men are exactly like us, except all that they lack are the resources and some self-belief. We do our best to fill this missing link by staying on the ground and supporting the honey badgers with the right resources (money, training & market reach) which ultimately means connecting them to you!
The multiplier effect doesn’t just happen in Cambodia, but it has been happening all over the world. Our supporters, lenders, local partners, and friends all share the honey badger factor. Even from the other side of the world, they are giving their time, money and supporting the entrepreneurs to take their first steps out of poverty. These honey badgers are supporting honey badgers in Cambodia and in doing so are creating a ripple effect around the world! Some of our honey badger tribe include CLA, Oxford Microfinance Initiative, and 2People1Life.
As a grassroots organization, living and working in the rural communities, we can see that there is no shortage of hone badgers who are motivated and willing to work to improve their livelihood. We believe
that if we can find more of these honey badgers, then we can create a greater impact on the ground. However, we would love to find more honey badgers around the world who can support us with their skills, time or other resources. Please get in touch with us and let us know how you could help…we invite you to become a part of the honey badger tribe!!!