The names of the top three handicrafts suppliers in Cambodia are embedded with deepest meaning of the core values of Khmer culture, helping each other, and artistic works.

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Wathan Artisans Cambodia gifts shop in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Peace Handicrafts is a social-support business established in 2002 to provide training and employment opportunities to landmine victims and disabled persons.

Peace Handicrafts adheres to the philosophies of social responsibility and a clean green environment. It has been producing high quality products made from local hand-woven silks and recycled materials, and has become a leading exporter of these products to overseas markets. It was initiated by four people, having the same mission to retain peace, cooperation and sustainability of the business. The company’s logo is a pink dove to symbolize its mission. The brand has been recognized locally and captivated trusts among foreign tourist buyers in the country.

Two year later, the Peace Handicrafts was taken over by Y.E.K. Design, which is also a social business run by founder and owner Yek Hong Tang. With her vast knowledge and experience, the company experienced rapid growth from just a handful of staff to over 100 artisans.

Mrs. Tang has had long career in fashion as well as in the garment industry. She studied at the School of Fashion and Design in Dunedin, New Zealand, and in industrial production at RMIT University in Australia.

Rajana Association Cambodian Art & Craft is a Cambodian-run social enterprise working hand-in-hand with local artisans.

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Rajana Association Cambodia Arts and Crafts in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Rajana locally means craft or beauty. Its concept is to create valuable products from discarded materials and remnants from war found scattering since 1979 in the country such as bombshells, trinkets and other recyclable materials.

“We are making these materials and bringing them to life through arts and creative ideas,” said Ngok Nimul, general manager of Rajana Association.

“We will help Khmer people to know about arts, create jobs, and make use of scraps,” she added.

The company seeks to produce a true reflection of our people’s culture, while advancing the skills and lives of artisans.

Its logo features three elephants in different sizes to signify the low, middle and high classes of people in the society, and that they should rely on and help each other.

At present, Rajana has about 100 home-based producers, aiming to ensure that the latter will have better living standard and sustainable income for supporting their families. Now, they are able to send their children to school, having enough food and other basic needs.

Not only creating job opportunities, Rajana provides export buyers with a standard of professionalism and credibility.

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Peace Handicraft showroom and workshop in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Watthan Artisans Cambodia (WAC) is run by a cooperative of Cambodian artisans with disabilities. It is a training and production center that develops students with disabilities in handicraft production and fine woodcarving.

Watthan originated from the name of pagoda, where the center is situated. Most of producers are former students of Maryknoll – Wat Than Skills Training Center for Landmine and Polio Disabled in Phnom Penh. Maryknoll ran the center in conjunction with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Labor, Vocational Training and Youth from 1991 to February  2003. World Vision continued the program until May 2004.

Since June 2004, the former students of Wat Than, now the staff and producers of WAC – formed an independent workshop.

WAC is committed to provide hope and empowerment to people with disabilities and to participate in the development of Cambodia. The name has been changed to Watthan Artisans Cambodia (WAC) to better reflect the mission.

About the author – Sophal Bun

Sophal Bun

Sophal Bun is an Export Consultant for Export Assistance Program Cambodia. He received a full scholarship from the Hinrich Foundation and graduated with Master of Arts in International Journalism Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University in 2014. He also earned another master’s degree in Development Studies from the Royal University of Phnom Penh in 2012.