• The wonderful artisans who work for Baskets of Cambodia
Since 1996, BOC has affected and helped empower hundreds of artisans, from basket makers, to mat weavers, to purse maker/stylists. Our makers are often too shy to talk about themselves, but we do our best to get their stories, and follow ups years later. Here are just a few to give you a perspective on the realities of life in poor countries. What is amazing is that no matter how much people make, they always manage to send some money home to their parents back in their villages. Also humbling is the faith that our makers put in BOC, and the continual effort they put into raising quality standards so that they may continue to grow with us as our products are sold worldwide. In some cases, mistakes in English are left in place or mildly corrected to add a sense of reality to the stories and the cross cultural challenges.
Here are a few of our makers' stories. These are the result of an interview a few years ago to find out more about our workers’ wants and needs. The interviews give a fascinating insight into life in the third world. You will find that the makers regularly show gratitude for the freedom that our work gives them, and how they see how their improvement will lead to other benefits. Another constant is the desire especially among the young workers to be able to care for their families, in particular to take care of their parents.
You may notice that wages are low by Western standards. We do not attempt to hide any of this. Our goal is to make our business attractive to our workers so that they prefer us over other companies because they receive better compensation and treatment. In return, we are truly creating a very talented workforce to grow as our products evolve.
Some of these workers come to our office in Phnom Penh to work. Others work at home. If requested, we supply sewing machines which that the workers can use for any purpose (once they are paid for). They can choose to work for themselves or even another business, but if we haven’t kept them with us, then we aren’t doing our job.
This 18 years old girl was born in
In September 2003 her neighbor told her about company, where she could train as purse maker. Because of no experience, she took 3 months in the training to make purse. In training, her sample purses sold at the market for her own benefit. Then she made good purse for us and started earning from 30 to 40$ per month.
She said that she is very happy with this work and thank very much for this company. Even with this small starting amount she still wants to work with us and thinks she will become a best maker soon. Anyway, it is a first step for her and she enjoys the freedom of our work.
Orn Sinann is now in our elite group of "A" makers and has worked steadily for BOC now for over 7 years. In a typical month she earns close to $200, much of which she sends home to her family in Pursat Province.
is 22 years old, and now she lives at the Kandal village Chba Ampov Sang Kat Meanchey Kandal Province (40 miles from Phnom Penh). She finished high school in 2002. She has been training in ILO (International Labor Organization), which finds the job for disabled people. She worked for this organization a whole year without payment. She terminated this work in September 2003 because her sister told her about Baskets of Cambodia!. She was trained in Basket of (Cambodia) earning $1 per day fro training. When she became better, she began to make 30$ to 60$ per month depending on how much work she got. She said that this is a job she is interested in. She wants to do it. It is very happy because no enforcement (no boss) she does as well as she can. The more work she does. the more money she gets. She is working hard to become a best maker and wants to work hard until she gets what she wants.
is 17 years old, lives in Prek Tamerk district Kandal Province (40 miles form Phnom Penh). Currently, she stays in a rental house near our office. She is a student in Russei Keo secondary school (our neighborhood school). Because her house far from the school and her family is very poor, she has to find a job to support her study and for other expenses. So in November 2003 she asked our company for a job making purses. She was allowed and trained for three months. Depending on her efforts, she can make many good purses as we grow. She starts now earning from 30$ to 40$ per month, because she works part time after her study time.
Srey SoThea & Srey Chamnan
Srey Sothea is 24 years old and Srey Chamnan is 21years old. They are brothers, living near Russian Market in
Because of experience with sewing, they spent only 1week with purse training. They now can make many good purses quickly. First month they could earn 80$ then the month later they can get over a hundred ($100) dollars. Currently, they are among our best makers for our company. Their maximum incomes around 200$ or more up to our commands. Baskets of
They said that they are happy with this work; this work makes them get better benefits than before, and it is enough for their expenses and they can continue their study. Now they are studying in private
These brothers now both work as staff of BOC. Chamnan is Production Manager for our purses, and Sothea, his brother is chief quality control inspector. Their current income is about double what they used to make as purse makers.
With his 22 years old, Sovannarith lives with his mother in a rental house near our company office. He stopped studying in high school in 12th grade because his parents divorced in 2001, so he had no one to support his study and other expenses. Then he decided to ask for a job as a car repairer in a garage to help his mother and 3 younger brother sisters. With this job he could earn $0.75 (cents) per day (training and work). Unfortunately, when he finished this training course, he could not run his own business.
He could not find the job that related with his skill. So he was jobless. After getting the company information, he asked our company to get training sewing purses as a test. Then he got a good result in 2 months of our training. The company allowed him to make purse. He now earns money from 40$-50$ part-time per month because he make slowly.
He said that however this is a small income for him, it is a part of help that can help him to support his family (his mother and sister sew cloth at home).
She is 22, lives in
Because of her experiences, Narein applied this job for our company. She did not get training from our company. She earned 80$ in her first month. Presently, she is one of our best maker and gets 150-200$ per month up to our orders.
She said that this firm provides her a lot of benefit and more experiences. However sometime when she does not get order from our company, she can makes purses to sell at the market.
Yeun is a good maker, comes from
Before she come here she was making the rice with her family but she said that it is very difficult for her family because that province the land is not so good. She can only grow a little bit of rice, so she thought that if she still make the rice with her family it will not be enough to raise for all her family. A few weeks after she finished cutting the rice she asked her parent for permission to find a job in
Mr Ty is 24 years old, he come from
He started to look for a job again, but no place would accept him to work because they think that he can’t work hard for their company. Fortunately he knows some one who worked for Baskets of Cambodia! making the purses from the mat to sale for market. He decided to work with this company. The first month that he work in the new place he can earn at least 70 $-100$ per month. It is more than when he was work at the construction company, and now he is getting better - he can earn much more than before when he started to work.
Miss Meas Srey My
Meas Srey My is 25 years old female she comes from Svay Rieng (120
Pouk Naroth is 18 years old. She lives in
Toep Lakana, female, 20 years old. Before she works with us she has embroidered the clothes to sell at the market, she could earn money from 10$ to 15 $ per week (embroidery cloth costs 8$). Because of not enough work she decided to find a new job in garment factory. She spent only one year with this new job, she could earn 40$/month with around 10$ for overtime until 10.00pm. Everyday she worked hard, anyway her house is far from the factory that makes her meet the difficulty with travel when she worked for overtime, because the streets are not safe at night. So she could not tolerate with this job. After that, because of having some experiences with sewing skill and needs of our company, we allowed her to try to sew the purse. After 2 months of training she had become a good purse maker. With our company, she can earn with a minimum income of 70$ per month during slow times. Also, with the busy time she can get 100$/month or more. Currently, she is very interest(ed)ing with this job because it is a liberal job, no enforcement, working as much or as little as she wants. “It is a very big change and a big difference from the past because I can earn more money and it is easier than before, no enforcement, I do what I can,” she said.
Chan Cheun is 46 years old, female, lives in
After treatment, her eyes got better so she decided to apply the job in our company. We trained her 2 months with purse sewing to be a good maker. During training she could earn 40$ per month. Presently, she becomes one of our best makers. Because of the eyes problem, it makes her sew slowly with attention, so she can earn only $70-80 per month. This income makes her standard of living better.
She likes this job very much. She is very happy and wants to work with our company until she is unable to work for us. She added that she would like to thank the company that allowed her to borrow funds for her sewing machine, which helps her a lot. She will pay for her sewing machine over time and it will belong to her.
Kim Ang is 46 years old, female, lives in
Vireak is 23 years old, male, lives in
After that, Vireak worked for NCDP organization (this organization support poor and disabled people). In this organization, he could earn 40$ per week. At that time he met a American businessman who buys purses the same as our company but these orders became less. Meanwhile, he applied that job to Baskets of Cambodia!. In this firm he can earn more money than before. His minimum income is 10$ per day and the maximum is 15$ if he work at the nighttime and get help from his family members. He said that he likes this job and wants to work this company, because since he work for our company, he can feed his family easier that before.
Kim Meng Cheng
She is 18 years old, lives in Kratié province, over 100 miles from
After that, she came back to
She said it is interesting job, she will try to become a good maker, she will earn more money like the best makers and it is the freedom at work that she appreciates. Anyway she can send some money to support her family when before she never was able to earn enough money for herself.
Date: February 3, 2015