Gareth and I were interested to read in last week’s newspapers that newly appointed Foreign Minister Bob Carr also likes to support Cambodia’s economy!
Like Bob, I was visiting Cambodia a few weeks ago and I was interested to see the pomp and ceremony associated with Cambodia’s hosting of the 20th ASEAN Summit 2012. While Senator Carr took this opportunity to announce Australia’s $1 million support for protecting Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, I was meeting with suppliers on the other end of the scale, small grass-roots businesses battling to enter Australia’s markets and earn their slice of the pie.
After volunteering in Cambodia for 3 years, I vowed to continue to work from the ground up upon my return to Australia – through Khmer Trading, we've been able to engage small manufacturing businesses based in Cambodia and can work with them to produce innovatively designed, high quality goods suited to the Australian market. While we do not quite have a million dollars to invest in Cambodian tourism like the Australian Government, we do feel we've managed to make some inroad into supporting Cambodian manufacturers on a very small scale.
While I don't begrudge Angkor Wat's need for protection, it is perhaps a bit frustrating that foreign Government's are pouring aid into this project while as far as I understand, the fees charged to millions of visitors to the site each year goes to a Chinese company rather than directly into protecting the wonder that is Angkor Wat...or is this just a rumour or me being cynical?
Our two brands, Smateria and Tendance Khmere have fast become the “next best thing” in Cambodia with Smateria opening 4 stores locally over the past 5 years and Tendance Khmere, opening 3. Both brands have a presence in Angkor Wat’s hometown of Siem Reap and take advantage of the scores of tourists who enter this town each day to visit this national treasure.
When we saw these products when we were living in Cambodia, we immediately felt that we could assist with the brands’ expansion by offering to bring them to Australia – now with exclusive distributor rights for both brands in Australia, we are proud to not only promote the products, but also the plight of Cambodia and it’s people.
Khmer Trading supports Cambodia’s economy by:
Assisting to employ approximately 100 workers in line with international standard Labour Laws, including higher than standard wages, sick leave, annual leave and health care;
Providing an opportunity for Cambodian-made products to reach the Australia market;
Promoting the fact that Cambodian manufacturers can produce goods to suit the quality standards and taste of the Australian consumers;
Supporting businesses who use Cambodian raw materials where possible to produce their products (Tendance Khmere in particular supports the traditional khmer craft of silk weaving);
Supporting businesses who produce ethical, environmentally friendly products (Smateria in particular addresses the problem of rubbish disposal in Cambodia by using recycled products such as plastic bags, motorcycle seats and netting to produce their bags and accessories)