People Category Finalist
Founded in late 2009, Kinyei International is a Cambodian association that promotes youth social entrepreneurship and responsible tourism through two interconnected tourism businesses – an educational bike tour (Soksabike) and a training café (Kinyei Cafe). Its aim is to provide a platform for the emergence and development of independent ideas, while also providing young Cambodians from disadvantaged backgrounds with the chance of employment through training in tourism and hospitality.
The café is a profitable, thriving hub of social innovation and local artistic talent, all based around the simple idea of providing a welcoming place for people to gather and drink great coffee. The coffee is from sustainably harvested and procured beans from Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. And it is served by their own baristas, all of whom are young local people trained to such a high standard by Kinyei that two of them have won the Cambodian National Barista Championships.
Meanwhile, Soksabike (its name is a play on the Khmer greeting of ‘Soksabai’, or ‘How are you?’) offers four bicycle tours of between 30-50km in length, all of which take guests to discover a series of family-run cottage industries in the Battambang countryside.
Guests meet their guides at Kinyei Café for a coffee (of course) and a quick language lesson, before heading off on their chosen tour. Depending on the tour, the group may enjoy lunch at a family home, drop in on a fish market, or visit a memorial site for Khmer Rouge victims. One tour stops by a minority Cham Muslim village to learn about life as a Muslim in a predominantly Buddhist nation. And all in all, Soksabike works with thirty families and shares out its profits each time the tours pass by.
From such seemingly small beginnings, the two projects have already had a wide impact. In the five years of their existence, they have trained 50 staff in coffee and food service, guiding, finance, IT and management skills. Meanwhile over 15,000 guests have either passed through the café or taken one of their bicycle tours.