Artisans' Association of Cambodia
The Artisans Association of Cambodia (AAC), a Fair Trade association, was formed by WRF in 2001 and with support from the UNDP to support the development of crafts as a viable way of economic improvement of disadvantaged and disabled Cambodians. Today, the project supports over 42 social enterprises in Cambodia who pay wages to over 2,540 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 43 member umbrella association today. International sales have grown from $25,000 per year to over $4 million in 2016. The increase in sales has led to higher incomes and greater economic independence for the AAC artisans. Moreover, WRF has witnessed an increase in the capacity and confidence of the AAC member organizations in terms of managing these social enterprises and networking both locally and regionally 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 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. Women in Cambodia are far less likely to be literate (69% as compared to 85% of men) and women in managerial positions are extremely rare. Bearing in mind the barriers to economic independence for women and persons with disabilities in Cambodia, the overarching goal of the program is to support and strengthen the capacity of the social enterprise groups (member organizations of the AAC), and ultimately improve the well-being of people served by these organizations. The AAC does this through various activities: Networking: connecting members with each other and with other partners that can encourage and assist them in their work. Organizational Development: assisting members in developing their businesses and implementing effective company policies. Quality Control: providing assistance in assessing AAC members' product quality and ensuring that artisans are meeting high standards in their production. Sales Assistance: working with members to explore opportunities to increase the sales of their products, both locally and internationally, including participation at exhibitions and fairs. Export Services: acting as a ‘commercial agent’ for international buyers, consolidating orders and overseeing the shipment of AAC members' products. Advocacy: representing the interests of disadvantaged artisans to government and other decision-makers.
- Cambodia>Phnom Penh
- Economic Recovery and Development
- Social Services