How teaching English funded an NGO's work in Cambodia's rural communities

From Aid | The Guardian Fri Feb 15 2013, 06:02:00

When the going got tough, a Cambodian development team had to find alternative revenue. And it did it in an innovative way

The Cambodian Rural Development Team was founded in 2001 with the aim of creating a Cambodia free from poverty and environmental degradation. Working in three of the country's north-eastern provinces, the team specialises in environmentally appropriate agricultural development. We focus on increasing food security, natural resource management, water and sanitation, renewable energy technologies, income generation, eco-tourism and community empowerment. Our donors include WWF, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the business school of the Pan-American university in Mexico, the Australian overseas aid programme and the UN Development Programme.

However, despite valuable funding from international donors, by early 2005 we were concerned about our sustainability. Funding was at times haphazard and difficult to secure. Moreover, donors often stipulated that funding could only be spent on projects, not on core costs, such as staff development and welfare. The team had to be innovative about its fundraising, so Mao Savin, one of our founding members, and Geordie Smith, a volunteer teacher at Chea Sim University of Kamchaymear (formerly Maharishi Vedic University) had the idea of an English language school. It was called Conversations with Foreigners.

Profits from this project were intended to provide a sustainable source of income, allowing us to become self-sufficient. We thought that Conversations with Foreigners would be a viable source of funding ...

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