Kinyei shortlisted as Finalist for 2016 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards

Tourism_Tomorrow_Finalist_2016_Spot

All-Kinyei-Logos for blogFinalists in The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) annual Tourism for Tomorrow Awards have been announced, recognizing Kinyei International (KI) as one of three finalists in the People Category for their dedication to sustainable social change.

KI represents Soksabike Tours and Kinyei Cafe; sibling businesses in Battambang, that are youth-focused social enterprises armed with the mission of providing meaningful training in small business management, hospitality, and sustainable tourism practices.

“The recognition from the WTTC takes on special meaning this year for us, given the inclusion of sustainable tourism practices within the new Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and the UN recently declaring 2017 the Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development” – Melina Chan, Co-Founder, Kinyei International

Attracting 157 applications across a number of categories, the People Category recognizes organizations that work exceptionally to enhance the capacity of people, and to support them to enter the Travel & Tourism sector as well as offering fair employment practices. 

KI’s placement as a finalist in the WTTC Awards comes on the heels of another Responsible Travel accolade; KI was named the winner of Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism Award in the Responsible Tourism Initiatives category in September 2015.

“We are humbled to be recognized on a global stage for our sound tourism practices, particularly by the WTTC as they are such a prominent leader in raising awareness of sustainable travel practices” – Katie Hallaran, Co-Founder, Kinyei International

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For more information, please contact:

Katie Hallaran   |   +1 203 558 5264   |   katie@kinyei.org   |   kinyei.org

 

Our Kinyei family is growing!

Read all about it!!

Our family is growing! @Feel Good Cafe and Coffee Roasters and @Kinyei are new partners and co-owners of @Kinyei Cafe in Battambang. Same wonderful Kinyei Cafe staff and excellent coffee, with some new food on the menu and a new look! Come and sample our new goodies and see our fresh new look for our reopening this month (November).

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It is with great anticipation that we share the news that Kinyei Cafe has formalized our partnership with our roaster, Feel Good Group. As of October 1st of this year, Feel Good became the newest majority owner of the cafe, and the operating partner on st. 1 ½ . Feel Good’s expertise in hospitality and bean roasting combined with the Kinyei team’s reputation for excellence in espresso making and dedication to employee development positions both Kinyei and Feel Good for continued success and market leadership.

This transition also signifies something else to get excited about; the beginning of local ownership, a milestone that we’ve been working towards since we launched Kinyei Cafe! We’re thrilled that Yong (Chhouert Leng), our tireless manager, will join the ranks of the owners. We wanted to update you on these new developments now because this month marks the soft opening of the new space, with some amazing aesthetic improvements and menu additions. But let’s back up, we want to give you the full story, and answer some of the FAQs you might have.

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On the evolution of our relationship with Feel Good:

Kinyei met Feel Good a few years back at the 2013 Cambodian National Barista Competition in Phnom Penh via Sakana Long and Untac Nem, our award winning baristas who forged the relationships. The Feel Good connection blossomed as Kinyei began to buy Feel Good roasted beans, and seek advice from Marc and Jose on small scale renovations and management strategies. Through these collaborations, the Feel Good and Kinyei teams became acquainted, and linked.

On the potential for shared value:

This year, the desire on both ends to formalize a relationship propelled Kinyei and Feel Good to start discussions over what a partnership might look like. Both teams prioritized sustainability, growth and local ownership in order to maximize the shared value. After growing their two cafes and roasting facility in Phnom Penh, Jose and Marc felt strongly about Battambang as their next move. Mel and Katie led consultations with Yong and the team, and collectively knew a Feel Good merge could mean big things for Kinyei Cafe.

On the logistics of the deal:

We began discussions in May and through an impressive skype effort (where we relied on Cameron Neil, Hian Chan and Ben Hopper), with Katie in Cambodia in June and July, we reached an agreement in August. Mel came through to Battambang to arrange the transition in August, and here we are in November with the new Cafe ready to launch!

FAQs:

Will the name of the Cafe change? No, Kinyei Cafe will remain Kinyei Cafe! Feel Good understands the power of Kinyei’s brand in Battambang and throughout Cambodia and will operate the cafe under that name. After all,our name is a core part of the identity that the team has cultivated over the years!

What does this mean for Kinyei’s talented staff? You will still see the same faces at Kinyei Cafe. Our current staff will stay on and benefit from enhanced on the job training, and more opportunities for growth and leadership

How will it affect Soksabike? And what does it mean for Kinyei generally? Kinyei International will retain a stake in Kinyei Cafe, and as full owners of Soksabike, Kinyei International will ensure that the relationship between the sibling businesses remains symbiotic and dynamic!

Finally, we want to thank you for being a part of the Kinyei family, and for your involvement over the years which ultimately ensured this huge victory for Kinyei, and for believing in the small, social enterprise models that make small but significant impacts in local communities. We couldn’t have done this without the support, mentorship, and generosity of the Kinyei network. We hope if you’re around you will come by to celebrate! And do stay tuned for more exciting news on the new Kinyei Cafe!

kinyei team pailin coffee trip

Cafe team during a trip to Pailin coffee farm



Kinyei recognized as regional leader in sustainable tourism; an update on our Wild Asia Award

As Kinyei turns five years old, what better way to celebrate how far we’ve come on our journey to create meaningful community tourism projects in Battambang than to be recognized as a leader in the sustainability and the responsible tourism industry. We are over the moon to share with our friends, long-time supporters, customers and community that Kinyei has been named the winner of the Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Initiative category by Wild Asia.

Guide Phalla leading through a rice field

Guide Phalla leading through a rice field

Kinyei is an initiative aimed at creating sustainable social change through youth focused social enterprises. Soksabike Tours and Kinyei Cafe, Kinyei’s key enterprises, are sibling businesses in Battambang, Cambodia with the aim of providing meaningful training in hospitality and responsible tourism practices. We’re excited to receive the award for both of these tremendous efforts, but we also wanted to give a shout out to the other finalists in our category EXO Foundation Cambodia and CBT Vietnam, two commendable responsible tourism initiatives worth visit if you have the chance!

Yurie with other Wild Asia Awardees

Yurie with other Wild Asia Awardees

Our trusty Soksabike Manager, Yurie Nagashima, accepted the award on behalf of Kinyei last week in Bangalore, India. It was also an opportunity to showcase Kinyei’s mission, and Battambang’s unique potential on a world stage. Yurie was also asked to speak alongside Amy McLoughlin of Wild Asia on Social Innovation in Responsible Tourism.

A bit about the Awards: Wild Asia is the first Asia-focused, responsible tourism technical and strategic support partner working to sustainably enhance tourism sectors across South and Southeast Asia. Each year, Wild Asia chooses winners across five categories to showcase as leaders in the industry. Kinyei is joining the ranks of some of the most impressive tourism initiatives out there including Scuba Junkie, a marine conservation partnership in Malaysia, viavia Jogja, an arts, culture, gastronomy and adventure tour operator in Indonesia, and Lisu Lodge, a natural heritage tourism operation in Thailand. We are honored to join a community of conscientious tourism operators.

A bit about the specifics of Kinyei’s Award: As the recipient of the Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Initiative award, we are delighted to be recognized as a champion for grassroots initiatives for responsible tourism in Battambang and in Cambodia. Since Kinyei was conceived of, we’ve been motivated by inclusivity, community narratives, and the power of collaboration. Throughout our projects, from the early days co-creating digital communications solutions with local NGOs through the Profile Project, to helping launch Sammaki a local arts community gallery, to our social impact evaluations with our Soksabike Tour community partners, to sending Sakana off to Singapore to represent Cambodia in the regional barista competition, we have never done anything alone. Our recognition symbolizes the admirable efforts of all of our collaborators and supporters over the years. So, thanks to all of you!

We asked Yurie a few questions about her take on the awards, and, en route to India, she was able to give us some grains of wisdom – we’ll have them up for you to see so check back soon! In the meantime, you can read more in a recent Khmer Times write up about the projects. And for now we just want to say thank you for supporting the Kinyei mission! We couldn’t have done this without the efforts of so many of you. And if you haven’t stopped by for a cycle tour or an award winning cappuccino yet, we’d love to welcome you in!

Kinyei Cafe Team

Kinyei Cafe Team

We won the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Award!

Kinyei, which operates Soksabike Tours and Kinyei Cafe, won the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Award 2015 under the Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Initiative category!

We are very excited to have received this recognition for our effort in promoting sustainable tourism practices. Please have a look at this Soksabike’s page on some of the examples of our responsible tourism practices.

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An Unlikely Story at Kinyei

Personal connections are made everyday at Kinyei and Soksabike; it’s part of what we do here. Every now and then, though, something extra amazing happens that helps us to remember how powerful channels of communication around the world really are.

A few months ago, a message came into the general Soksabike email inbox. It was not the usual request for a tour booking; this message came from the US and inquired after lost family thought to be living in Battambang. Written by Run and Larry from Tennessee, the message told the too familiar story of a family disrupted by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. Run is Cambodian born and raised, and had left Battambang during the conflict to stay in the Thai border camps before leaving for the US. Now, 30 years later, Run asked after her grandfather, mother and younger sister who were last known to be living in Tuol Ta Eik village in Battambang.

Run had been looking for ways to communicate with residents of Battambang to find information on her family for years. Finally facebook and similar social media channels provided a pathway in. Months had passed and Run hadn’t had much traction asking around to those claiming Battambang residence facebook. Run had come across the Soksabike website looking for another way to access people that would know Battambang.

Phalla, Soksabike’s main bookings officer, came across the message and took pause. “How should I reply?”, she thought. Phalla’s mother lived in Tuol Ta Eik village. Maybe she could start there and just ask around. It couldn’t hurt.

“Ok, I have relatives, maybe I can help”, she wrote back to Run and Larry. She’d give it a try, but wanting to temper their expectations, told them she really had no idea if she would actually be able to help. She asked Run for her family member’s Khmer names.

Thinking logically, Phalla started her investigation with the Tuol Ta Eik Commune Chief. She met the staff of the Commune Chief, and presented the facts. “I said, I have a person I know who stays in the US and who is looking for her relatives.” Phalla recounted.

With some luck it seemed to Phalla, the staff member recognized one name from the list Phalla brought; Run’s grandfather, Cham Roeun Yam, who had died some time ago. The staff confirmed that the family used to reside in Tuol Ta Eik, and that all members of the family had either passed away or moved, except for one known granddaughter whose whereabouts could not be confirmed.

Phalla waited to give the staff time to ask around in the community. Although there was hope that the names had been recognized, Phalla was a bit doubtful on what would turn up. When she returned to the Commune Chief’s office, Phalla received the news that the staff had a chance meeting with a police officer that knew Run’s grandfather and family. He suggested that Phalla go and meet with the police, but Phalla was reluctant. She’d prefer to avoid trips to the police station.

There had to be something else she could do herself, without going to the police. On a whim, Phalla decided to ask her mother’s neighbors in Tuol Ta Eik. She hadn’t thought of it before, but the neighbors were nearly 80 years old, and had lived in the village for decades, perhaps they would have known or heard of Run’s relatives. She asked, did they know Cham Roeun Yam? Phalla was delighted. Yes, they had known her grandfather, who, they informed Phalla, had been the pagoda chief and had passed away in 1975. And yes, they could suggest another close friend of the family that might be a good resource.

The lead the neighbors gave to Phalla was fruitful. A dear friend of Run’s cousin from primary school, the woman was now a pharmacist in Psa (market) Runlakoun not far from Tuol Ta Eik. Phalla finally had good news for Run; the next day she gave Run and Larry the phone number of Run’s cousin, now living in New Zealand. Soon after that, Run and her cousin spoke on the phone after 32 years of separation.

Run’s cousin also had news; Run’s mother and sister are thought to be alive and living in Phnom Penh. So the search goes on, but already with such a fortuitous connection, the future is looking bright.

Phalla is energized and visibly moved by the story, and by her own role in it all. “I’m really happy, first, I have never done anything like that, I felt a very happy feeling, I didn’t think I would find even someone that knows her relative, I just thought I could try” she says, her eyes lit up.

“What’s funny, I look around and go far before I look right in front of me, and think maybe I should look closely. It was an accident, really, I found the answer at my mom’s house”. And all this time, the neighbors Phalla saw everyday had the information that the strangers from thousands of miles away were looking for.

Phalla’s excitement is infectious. We couldn’t be more proud to have her on our team. Phalla and Run have since been in communication sharing about their lives and families. They recently discovered a shared passion. Run owns a small craft shop in the US; for those that know her, this is just about the best news a craft enthusiast like Phalla could get.

Please share this story! It’s a testament to what strong communication channels are capable of. At Kinyei want to continue to promote these strong channels through the projects and the people involved. Best of luck to Run as she will interview for her US citizenship on June 14!

St 1.5 Cafe marks 9 months

We’re turning 9 months…!

Read on for the highlights of the last few months at the cafe:

Our new look

Cafe and office staff took the opportunity to give the place a face-lift while Justin, Mel and Katie were retreating in Indonesia. The place has never looked so alive, overflowing with ingenuity, and a smart new menu set on a cafe designed blackboard.

Dream team

We’ve increased our staff by 50%! After five months of training up what is now our highly qualified barista staff (really! based on feedback from customers), we had an intense hiring round in April. We recruited some of the best and brightest to learn from our best and brightest. We now have seven dedicated cafe staff, including our newly appointed cafe supervisor – Sean.
We’ve also hired on two part-time Kinyei office staff members who focus their efforts on administrative, accounting and project specific work. We’ve loved having a full and lively office! It won’t be long before we’re going to have to relocate to accommodate the growing project staff.

Team Kinyei in June 2011 - we're growing

Team Kinyei in June 2011 - we're growing!

 

Temporary experts-in-residence: barista & food scientist

Recently the entire barista team – Sakana, Untak, Sopheap, Sakhey, Sotheareak and Sean – had the awesome opportunity to learn alongside Kinyei volunteers extraordinaire and Mel’s dear friends, Mikey and Ariana. June and July saw coffee making focus groups, hospitality trainings and team building workshops led by the Melbournite team of two, intimately familiar with coffee shop culture. Thanks to their expertise, the Kinyei cafe team enhanced their confidence in communication skills, milk steaming techniques, and smart operational practices. A huge thanks to Mikey and Ariana for their tremendous job in the cafe – and of course for the crafting ideas.

Mikey and Ariana our hospitality training volunteers from Australia

Mikey and Ariana came in June to share some much appreciated hospitality experience with our team

We were also fortunate enough to connect with a recently matriculated food scientist. Erin Hiller, sister of Shannon, friend and fellow Battambangian, came through to fine tune menu items as well as do some cost optimization research on locally available ingredients. Sakana, our resident baker, and Justin spent some quality one-on-one time with Erin. The results? Quality control for our snacks and baked items, and a better informed staff, plus some really fun food experiments to be done – including homemade caramel. Erin commented,

“The staff at Kinyei are extremely kind and welcoming, I think the jokes even started after the first few days that I was there. Hopefully I can make it back one day as it has become one of the top places I would like to revisit and explore more.”

Menu expansion

Macaroons and an old family fruit cake recipe are now available! Check back soon and we may even feature some of the food experiments we’ve been having fun with – eggs benedict and poached pear french toast. Not bad additions to your morning latte!

Other projects:

Soksabike is gearing up for a blow out tourist season. We’re entering a new chapter in the development of a new 2 day community development education cycling tour and just yesterday hosted 20 applicants for an information session on what it means to be a tour guide with Soksabike. A recruitment drive, the creation of a multi-day tour, and potential partnerships with local, national and international businesses means that the Soksabike project has been anything but quiet this rainy season. Kinyei also recently hosted the Pepy Tour folks for an information sharing session about our projects. We’re also excited about a social impact survey we recently undertook to gauge our footprint on the local families and industries we visit.

Peppy visit Kinyei in August

Peppy visit Kinyei in August

A huge thanks to Jan, a Soksabike supporter from Germany who stopped in Battamabang for 2 weeks on his cycling journey through South East Asia to help research routes and stops for Soksabike’s new tour.

Check out more at www.soksabike.com

Sammaki news –

Sammaki opened its doors to the public with a bang in late May. Over 200 showed up, a good mix from all over – Battambang, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, and Sisiphon. Since its launch in May, the community gallery and studio space has been bustling with people piling in for workshops, Sunday tea parties, lectures, and educational crafting with local youth groups, in addition to the daily foot traffic from tourists passing by. None of this would have materialized without the endless energy of the founding members, and local artists who have come together to make possible the vision for a community space to appreciate and celebrate art.

Samaki workshop

Samaki workshop

The latest news is the exceptional solo exhibit by newly minted resident artist, Bo Rithy. His show, Mother’s Sweat was a tribute to his tireless mother who braved the daily plights of poverty in Cambodia to raise her family. Have a look at the show.

We’re thrilled with the success of Sammaki since the concept of community-run /community-engaging spaces aligns with the core of Kinyei’s vision. We’re especially excited that it’s getting so much traction in the national press. Pretty rad, guys!

If you’ve dropped by the cafe why not drop us a line on Trip Advisor

We’re currently #5 out of 25 restaurants in Battambang

Barista championships and the future

Kinyei staff are honing their latte art skills for Cambodia’s barista championship coming up in October. We’ve also been encouraged by the requests we’ve gotten for our staff to train new baristas in cafes in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

The quality espresso coffees coming out of Kinyei Cafe

The quality espresso coffees coming out of Kinyei Cafe

 

How can you stay involved?

Have a quick take of our abbreviated Kinyei material needs list below. We’re working to get a comprehensive list up on the site to accommodate the many inquiries we get on how to pitch in or get involved with Kinyei

Our tech list includes

+digital cameras (used or new) with all the photography workshops we’ve been hosting at the open workshop series, our team and the greater Battambang population is increasingly hungry for cameras to help realize their professional + creative ambitions
+computers (used or new) with our expanded team, our computers are stretched across one too many laps these days, we’re looking for a few extra to have on hand, also for affiliate groups we work with who come by hoping to hop on a machine
+quality USB keys – these can be excrutiatingly hard to find in Battambang

Interested in being an expert-in-residence?

We’d love to host short or long terms visitors with skills or knowledge they want to impart to our teams and/or projects. Contact us!