What's in a name?
The name, Spean Chivit, was chosen in consultation with our youth advisory team. It is particularly meaningful in the Khmer language.
It represents our metaphor of being a bridge to better employment opportunities. But in broader terms it is a bridge to new information and a new phase of life.
We believe our programs can and will change lives.
Youth Resource Centre
Spean Chivit is a multi-purpose resource hub, focussing on the development of young adults in Siem Reap to enhance their work, study and life opportunities.
Led by young adults, for young adults, to provide essential life skills education, creative development, career advice, mentoring and support.
Spean Chivit is accessible to Cambodian youth, aged 16 – 35. It is located in a vibrant, creative, safe space where we foster a sense of belonging, positive social norms and collaboration.
We believe girls have as much right as boys to follow their dreams and succeed in whatever endeavours they choose to pursue. We provide a range of gender-equitable and inclusive youth development programs, aiming to give confidence and skills to young women and other vulnerable and marginalised communities, while challenging gender norms.
Cambodians have grown up with the Chbab Srey – an old poem, outlining a women’s role in society. It requires women to be quiet, stay at home and attend the needs of the family. Until recently, it was taught in schools.
Women, who do not comply with these stringent rules are considered bad and are often subjected to verbal shaming and sexual violence.
Keeping girls safe at home is viewed as more important than education or employment and often restricts their movements. High rates of domestic violence have been exacerbated throughout the pandemic and some girls are not returning to school.
While we do everything we can in to encourage girls, we strongly believe that changing traditional and out-dated gender-norms requires an investment in educating boys and young men. We have plans to implement programs for young men to help combat violence against women and other prejudices that restrict opportunities for women.
Our programs are inclusive and we are dedicated to providing a safe space for everyone who visits.
What being a social enterprise means to us
First, to be completely upfront, there is no legal framework for a social enterprise in Cambodia. So this is a status we choose.
We have thought long and hard about using it because it can be widely misunderstood. We chose to be a business and not an NGO (non-government organisation) for multiple reasons.
In recent years government regulations have changed and it is no longer possible for NGOs to run money-making initiatives.
We have plans for money-earning projects we want to involve young people in.
Cambodia has one of the highest numbers of NGOs in the world. We want to move away from a model that makes us 100% reliant on the generosity of donors and the expectation that others will keep giving. We encourage young people to think about economic sustainability.
That said, in most countries, the services Spean Chivit provides would be set up by charity organisations, local governments, churches and other such establishments.
Our programs are largely a community service. To maximise impact we still require donations, particularly in this start-up phase.
Our core purpose is to fulfil a social need for young Cambodians – to bridge the gap between education and employment.
We also focus on enhancing life skills through programs such as budgeting, that will help improve their financial security.
All profits will go back into the business and provide programs, services and essential resources to help the growth and development of young people.
Gender equity and inclusivity is an important part of our business philosophy. We encourage young women to believe in their abilities, to strive for opportunities not previously open to them and to pave the way for other young women.
We offer a safe and welcoming space, where people are free of judgement and aim to educate to accept and embrace those who seem different.
We are community-minded and environmentally conscious, actively promoting sustainability and educating to create change.
We pay market wages or above with excellent working conditions and capacity building for team members.
Meet Spean Chivit's founder
I’m Sam. An avid, Aussie traveller, lover of animals – especially dogs – and a passionate storyteller.
I came to Siem Reap in 2015 with the intention of staying a year – but life has a funny way of reinventing our plans, and changing the journey.
Cambodia gave me the most unexpected of gifts – connection, a strong sense of community and a sense of purpose I’d not previously found.
My background in journalism and photography led me to volunteer roles sharing the stories of people and organisations here.
Eventually I found myself working with young people. I was so inspired by their thirst for knowledge and determination to find a way out of poverty and I loved mentoring them.
In the process I saw the huge gaps in their education, including life skills, and the lack of resources they had access to. I could see how much a centre where they could meet, study, access internet and learn soft skills could make such a difference.
We were set to open our doors just as Covid arrived. Our journey has been fraught with challenges. Siem Reap suffered immensely from the loss of tourism. Young people need our services now, more than ever.