[Bridging] Weaving Possibility from Poverty: Back Cambodian Rural Artisans

EMPL Takeo , Cambodia
48 0

Weaving the possibility from poverty,

Extracting the colors of hope from despair.

Please join us in supporting Goel Community with Impact Donation!

“By weaving with the Goel Community,

now I can spend more time with my family.

Now, at home, everything is better than before.”

-Chhay Sokunthea, Goel Community’s home-based weaver-

Sokunthea is 49 years old, mother of two lovely daughters. She was compelled to leave school at a young age to work at a garment factory to support her family. Working at a factory was the only option for her as it required less skills, but she had to travel 4 hours back and forth every day, which became difficult especially when she wanted to spend more time with her daughters.

Project Overview

Project Goal                                

Reducing poverty among marginalized producers and artisans

Main Problem

Disorganized rural community due to exodus and poverty


Creating more stable job opportunities and better incomes for economically disadvantaged producers through access to larger market and ensuring Fair Trade practices

Funding Plan

E-Commerce Website and marketing resources

Continuing ripple effects of civil war

Cambodia has suffered from decades of civil wars that culminated in a horrible genocide widely known as the Khmer Rouge “Killing Fields” in the 1970s, during which they lost a quarter of their population. Moreover, much of Cambodia’s valuable traditional heritage was lost, including natural dye and traditional weaving techniques.

Lack of rural unemployment

The aftermaths of war severely affected the rural livelihoods in Takeo province that depended on rice cultivation. Although the warm climate and rich soil in Cambodia allows up to 3.5 rice cultivations per year, due to the lack of water resources and the destruction of water reservoir, 60% of the rice fields in Takeo province can cultivate only once a year. Moreover, the soil in Takeo is not the right soil for growing agricultural products other than rice. This means most of the farmers are unemployed for at least eight months a year.

Increasing rural exodus

Due to lack of employment opportunities and income in the countryside, many people opt to migrate to cities to find better prospects. On an average, four percent of a village’s population in Cambodia migrate to cities each year. In addition, a great number of Cambodians have continuously been immigrating illegally to neighboring countries looking for new opportunities.

Child labor, school dropouts, youth delinquency: A vicious cycle of poverty

As people leave the countryside to find employment, children are often left with their grandparents and do not receive enough parental care and love. These children have a higher tendency to be exposed to problematic activities such as drug, alcohol, gambling. In particular, drug-related problems among the youth are rising at an alarming rate.

Families that stay behind are not much better off, either. Due to lack of year-round stable income, many parents are forced to give up their children to orphanages or send them to work in places that do not require adequate training. For these children, continuing their education is a big challenge and many end up dropping out of school, increasing the likelihood of a cycle of generational poverty.

Photo by ND Strupler (https://www.flickr.com/photos/strupler/7800135046/in/photostream/)

Goel Community

Goel Community is a community development organization in Cambodia that supports the livelihoods of rural population by providing economic opportunities through natural dyeing and traditional weaving methods that preserve local heritage.

Since its foundation in 2006, Goel Community has been supporting people like Sokunthea to take more control over their lives and their families’. Currently, Goel works with three weaving communities in Takeo province with 24 full-time staff and 35 home-based weaving families. Through training and capacity building, Goel empowers locals to take ownership and leadership over the projects.

Sappan wood for nature dye

So far, they have built a weaving center, natural dye workshop, and a showroom in Phnom Penh, and its products are sold to several European and Asian countries. Moreover, Goel is receiving more attention from journalists as a fresh approach to rural development.

Goel Community aims to achieve the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Social Impact


Contribution towards SDGs

Human Rights

By providing means of income, Goel reduces poverty among rural Cambodian population.

No.1 No Poverty


Goel Community provides sustainable and enjoyable job opportunities to marginalized producers.

No.8 Decent Work and Economic Growth


Goel Community deals only with environment-friendly natural dye and abides by fair trade business policies.

No.12 Responsible Consumption and Production

*This project is in alliance with SDGs adopted by the UN. Please refer to the UN website for further details.

Business Model of Goel Community

While Goel Community has been focusing on developing social sustainability and creating social value, it now faces a turning point in which it needs to ensure financial sustainability to continue supporting the families. In order to do so, Goel is in need to expand marketing and sales efforts to attract more customers.

This is what Goel Community plans to do with the Bridge Fund.

Priority Needs

Budget (USD)

E-Commerce Website                                                                                                                  


Social Media Ads


Events Promotion (Exhibitions, etc.)


Hiring Marketing Officer




Expected Outcome

With the Bridge Impact Fund, Goel Community expects the annual income to increase up to USD 100,000, which will ensure the financial sustainability of the weaving communities and multiply its social impact in rural Cambodia.


Cambodia has one of the lowest Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) in the world. PPP provides a measure of comparing price levels across different countries and is known to provide closest to a ‘real comparison’. In 2015, United States, ranking 17th in the world, had a PPP of $56,430, while Cambodia ranked 177th with $3,290. For more information about the economic situation in Cambodia, please refer to the Global Business Knowledge.

캄보디아 전통 직조와 염색을 보급하여 시골 지역의 가난과 빈곤을 극복합니다.

Promote fair trade for the community by reviving traditional weaving and natural dyeing methods which preserve the local heritage that is gradually being lost.

{ Forecast Impact: EMPL > ENV > EDU }

USD 1,125 Funding goal  USD 2,500

  • 45%
  • D Funded
45% Complete

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역사가 기억할 12월 9일 오늘, 이제 약간 한 숨 돌려봅니다..
물론 앞으로 가야할 길은 아직도 멀게만 느껴지지만
작지만 큰 촛불과 국민에 희망을 걸어봅니다.

여기 또 하나의 작은 발걸음을 내딛어 볼까 합니다.
빈곤을 이겨내기 위한 캄보디아의 시골마을에도
희망의 꽃씨를 함께 뿌려주셨으면 합니다.

제 생일인 12월 14일까지 앞으로 약 5일간,
많은 금액이 모일 순 없겠지만 작은 나비의 날개짓이
불러올 수 있는 태풍의 가능성을 기대해보겠습니다.

저를 축하해주시려했던 친구, 언니, 오빠, 지인 여러분~
선물 대신 기부로 받겠습니다!!

제 생일을 축하할 생각조차 않으셨던 더 많은 분들~
빈곤을 이겨내기 위한 저들의 노력을 응원해 주십시요!!

미리미리 감사드립니다~ :-)

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