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“Time is the currency of life and we need to use it meaningfully with a sense of urgency”: the words of Jack Simms have a particular resonance for Paul and Keeva, the founders of SONAS. Meeting microcredit pioneer, Professor Mohammad Yunus, and learning about his work and its impact on millions of lives, fuelled their desire to follow in his footsteps. The pair is convinced that small acts can help to change one life at a time and trigger a “ripple effect” within communities. They believe that change can be made by empowering people and by removing barriers to create conditions where change can take place.
Sonas has a mission to empower prospective entrepreneurs, especially women, in rural Cambodia, helping them to take their first steps out of poverty, and to build happier, sustainable communities. It aims to remove barriers, instils belief and connects the entrepreneurs to the end user.
The Sonas method is to become immersed in the lives of communities to identify aspiring entrepreneurs and support them with training, funding and other resources that allow them to connect with the market for the goods they produce. Its first project, a weaving workshop in Takeo province, was developed in partnership with a Cambodian homestay, which now employs eight women who weave high quality cotton scarves. The scarves are sold around the world generating income that allows the women to take their first steps out of poverty and towards a better future. The project is located near the homestay, where visitors can experience the culture of rural Cambodia and see the impact the project makes on the local community.
Sonas is now developing a second project nearby, which will incorporate a farm that operates to a biodynamic model. This farm will act as a knowledge exchange and training hub for generating income through innovative farming techniques. It will also implement a waste management system that uses the “bottle brick house” concept recommended by the EXO Foundation. Sonas is an advocate of responsible tourism; visitors will be encouraged to view this project and exchange knowledge with local people in a way it believes will have a positive impact on the communities involved.
In 2014, the EXO Foundation provided advice on management and project development, supplied information on the “bottle brick house” technique and made a zero interest loan of $3,250 to support the start-up of five chicken farms which will be developed in line with a biodynamic model taught by Ben, a Cambodian farmer.
Do you have the skills or resources to help change someone’s world? You can join the Sonas social movement by supporting it in a number of ways:
• You can invest in Sonas by funding training and mentoring activities. Alternatively, you can show support by buying products created by the entrepreneurs.
• Sonas is always on the look out for like-minded global citizens who want to support and immerse themselves in communities. You can visit the projects to view their work or get involved in the Sonas Leadership Through Immersion Programme.
• Sonas believes in the ripple effect: you can play a part by sharing your knowledge and expertise with the entrepreneurs – a fulfilling experience that makes a lasting impact…
• Or, just pay a visit to the Cambodian Homestay, located on the road between Phnom Penh and Kampot, where you can enjoy a taste of rural life and treat yourself (and friends and family members!) to some of the beautiful scarves that are hand-woven on the premises.
Or, you can invest in the Sonas farming project and make a donation online.
We guarantee that this project will receive 100% of all donations made via EXO Foundation as we cover all money transfer expenses. If you decide to give directly to the organisation, we ask that you please inform us so we can acknowledge your generosity on our facebook page and in our annual report, and measure the effectiveness of our work to support valuable projects in the region.
Your donations directly benefit their needs: