During the last two decades, the number of NGOs active in Cambodia has proliferated – there are currently over 1350 – and the country has been a popular destination for international aid. However, as the country’s troubled past fades, and other countries find themselves in the limelight, donor interest is beginning to shift and Cambodian organizations can no longer depend on such high levels of support from their traditional funders. With such competition for increasingly scarce resources, NGOs are having to innovate to secure support and funding. For BSDA this has meant investing in social enterprise and benefiting from support in kind from numerous international volunteers. Social entreprise is the BSDA’s plan for increasing its sustainability by growing social enterprise activities and diversifying income.
Social Enterprise activities seek to achieve social impact whilst also generating income. Whilst still a relatively new concept to Cambodia, Social Enterprise is rapidly developing across the country, and BSDA has strived to be at the forefront of this movement. Just over 20% of NGO funding in Cambodia is now said to be from earned income, however it is mainly INGOs who are generating their own income and the practice is less common among locally run organizations. One of the main goals of much social enterprise in Cambodia is to give jobs to people from groups who may otherwise be excluded from employment (such as disadvantaged youth, PLHIV and people with disabilities). Social enterprise activities are particularly popular in relation to the increasing tourism which Cambodia is experiencing, and BSDA has begun to capitalize on this trend; running a popular restaurant on the riverfront of Kampong Cham. There is great potential for growth in this area, both in terms of increasing income, but also in supporting people to find long-term employment or business opportunities in order to be self-reliant. It remains to be seen whether Cambodia’s new NGO law, currently in draft, will be favorable to the development of Social Enterprise.
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