Kinyei Participates at BarCamp 4 in Phnom Penh

Two months ago, in October I was lucky enough to attend the most recent BarCamp in Phnom Penh.

What is BarCamp?

BarCamp is an international network of user generated conferences — open, participatory workshop-events, whose content is provided by participants — often focusing on early-stage web applications, related open source technologies, social protocols, and open data formats.

Recently, BarCamp Phnom Penh 4 was celebrate at the University of Puthisastra, which is located in Phnom Phenh. It was a 2 day event for computer enthusiasts, technologists, IT professionals, mobile & web developers, bloggers, translators, entrepreneurs, and especially social media specialists.

Kinyei was invited to participate, share some experiences and learn about the latest innovations of technology, from applications software to operating system, wired networking to wireless technology and from offline to online business.

My experience at this great event

Melina Chan run a Social Media in Cambodia session for BarCamp Event

A Social Media in Cambodia session was run at this BarCamp

In the BarCamp event, I joined some workshops on topics such as Why we need more courage for ourselves by Soluy Loeurt, Social Media Cambodia by Melina Chan, and Travel with no money by Rithy Thul. I got some good ideas such as how to communicate better through Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail; and about how to travel without any money to spend on food, accommodation or anything. Life is struggle sometimes, but we can survive.

I especially remember one quote that the leader of the workshop said: “life is improvement”. This made me realise that even though life is a struggle, I should keep trying to solve the problems I face. And by attending BarCampPP, I now have more knowledge of technology and and communication.

BarCampPP is a great event in Cambodia that shares information with a new generation of Khmer people. It provides a great education in technology, business skills, and communication. I really enjoyed attending BarCampPP, and I hope I will get to participate in this event again soon.

Social Business competition by ARUN

For some reason every event we go to seems to produce pictures of people sitting around which never represent the buzz and kick that I remember the event being all about, and the ARUN business idea comp that just went by is no exception. So I want to make it clear that despite the picture to the left being of people in chairs and tidy clothes, the 2-day competition / symposium was really awesome and I’m already excited for next year’s.

Kinyei went down as facilitators to help the 3-person teams (2 Cambodian and 1 Japanese student each) identify social issues, conceive of solutions, and try to distill an innovative, workable business idea from all of that. With just 24 hours to do this from start to finish, the teams performed admirably and I think they can all feel justifiably proud of their efforts.

Despite going along as “facilitators”, the experience was really a learning one for us too. Seeing groups of other people trying to find the right balance of social impact and economic feasibility (although I suspect that’s false dichotomy), and trying to home in on a social problem sufficiently well-defined to begin to tackle throws the whole process into a new clarity. Here are the top four things we learned from the event:

Well-defined is half done
“Hunger” might be something you’re really passionate about solving, but as a problem for a social enterprise to tackle, it is really pretty vague. Often groups had to sacrifice their heroic attack on a colossal social problem in order to find one that was clearly defined enough that a solution in the form of a single business was possible. Something we found helped in this process was an iterative interrogation of the causes of their stated problem: “What causes hunger here?” and “Ok and what causes that?” until an approachable problem emerged.

Know your customers
This is an entrepreneurship truism, and only more important when your enterprise is “social”. Frequently teams found they were trying to address problems and work with customers from a completely different socio-economic or cultural space to their own, and were therefore flying blind when it came to predicting their customers’ values and priorities. You need to be in touch with your customer base early and often, testing your critical assumptions in the real world to avoid potentially finding out one of them is critically wrong many months and thousands of dollars down the line.

Be flexible – about (almost) everything
In the competition, teams were coming up with ideas from scratch. The businesses had no customer bases, no buildings, no one on payroll and no existing brands to worry about. In other words, the teams had everything to gain from re-thinking their ideas from the ground up in response to new information, and nothing to lose – yet frequently, we found people reluctant to re-think their business model after it had been conceived. The problem is that any team that is diligently exploring a given social problem will inevitably come up with game-changing insights or information during the process, and often these insights will show their existing solution to be less than ideal. Teams therefore need to be able to prioritize their social mission, and be prepared to throw out any and all business ideas that they discover don’t serve that, rather than staying attached to a business idea itself, and manipulating the social mission and impacts to it.

Your team is your single most valuable asset
Finally, what was clearly obvious in the final presentations was that the passion, motivation and resources of the individuals in a team can make all the difference to potential investors (or in our case, judges.) The greatest social business idea in the world is only as good as the team that is going to implement it.

You can find out more about the event from ARUN, and Sen Tharo did a write-up you should probably check out.

The nascent social entrepreneurship culture in Cambodia is really exciting and it’s going to be interesting to see what the ARUN students end up doing with their ideas now that this competition is over (students, write to us to let us know!). With two more similar events coming up in the next few months, it’s obvious that support for social business is growing here, so hopefully the scene is here to stay.

Cafe expansion + new office space

It’s here!

The cafe has finally burst its belt, and its taken over the
upstairs of St. 1.5. Fully equipped with comfy couches and rustic
tables, the old office has had a fast facelift, and can now
accommodate lazy travelers looking to kick back, remote workers hoping
for an energizing desk space, and everything in between.

Thus the office has picked up and relocated a mere 10m south on St.
1.5 in a similarly charming yellow restored colonial building.* With
plenty of space for the Soksabikes, and our growing office crew, the
place already has a lively cowork feel to it. And rightly so! We want
to encourage remote workers coming from near and far to check it out.

*We absentmindedly left out that it was our dear friend and former Battambang resident, Alison, that made this move possible! Alison was our neighbor on St. 1.5 until she moved to Phnom Penh for work. She gave us the heads up about her fantastic property, and we jumped on the opportunity to rent. Thank you, Alison! We sure miss you and best of luck in Phnom Penh!

Have a glance at the new spaces here.

Notes from Kinyei vols James + Joel

Expert Barista and IT vols – James and Joel spent a few weeks with our team in early October. Hop over to their blog to hear about their time, and follow the rest of their Southeast Asian adventure.

Here’s a glimpse…

“We are still yet to convince all of Kinyei’s staff that we are not twins. It really doesn’t help that our names both start with ‘J’. Most of the time James was shortened to just ‘Jam’

Our time at Kinyei has been fantastic and it has allowed us to meet so many amazing local people. I’m sure it won’t be long before we return to Battambang in search for some local Kinyei hospitality.”

Angkor Art Explo

There’s an art thing happening in town today and for the next week involving artists from all over Battambang including art shows, parties and a travelling exhibition (on bicycles) through the countryside between Battambang and Siem Reap which is probably going to be amazing – I have no idea how Battambang’s very urban art scene is going to be received in the towns and villages of Cambodia’s less media saturated countryside, but stay tuned because we’ll probably be live blogging it.

Kinyei is acting as the festival HQ for the week so if you need to find out what’s happening where, drop by and pick up a festival guide. Oh and here’s the full program, you should probably check it out.

Startup Weekend Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh just had its first Startup Weekend, a worldwide phenomenon of high energy events where participants get together to choose and launch a business in 54 hours. The Cambodian incarnation was held in Phnom Penh’s Hackerspace – an innovative co-working & community oriented project in its own right – and attracted around 30 participants.

We went down and helped out on a couple of the startup teams, getting a taste for entrepreneuring in the Phnom Penh tech scene, and came back really excited for some similar all-in, collaborative startup events here in Battambang.

The Phnom Penh Post did a write up on it:

This was Cambodia’s first-ever Startup Weekend, a chance for the Kingdom’s future business leaders to prove their entrepreneurial mettle by building a business in 54 hours.

“There are a lot of Cambodians that have great business ideas,” Darren Jensen, Startup Weekend’s Phnom Penh leader, said.

“But for whatever reason they are too worried about executing them. So Startup Weekend is all about actually getting out there and executing.”

Which you should check out before it disappears behind the pay wall.

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

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!

If you have any of these spare please drop them by Inspire9 ASAP

With Kinyei’s growing coworking community, recent photography workshops and new hack night we find ourselves in need of more tech resources!

I’m in Melbourne working at Inspire9 until 3.30pm on Friday, so if you find yourself looking to get rid of any old or unneeded tech items please drop them by Inspire9 and they will come with me on my journey back to Battambang and be put to good use by many grateful young tech savvy Cambodians.

Quality tech resources are difficult to find in Battambang; not to mention the ones that are available are way to expensive for the majority of Cambodians and local organisations. Tech goods are some of the most valuable resources for our work with the community here. They enable the local organisations and groups we work with to share their stories with the global community and access more help, resources and mentoring from the global market.

We need:

  • laptops, laptops, laptops!
  • small handheld video cameras (need a recommendation for best one)
  • digital cameras – a decent point and shoot is great
  • if you want to get something special, we like for refurbished models
  • DSLR or something akin to Canon PowerShot G10 – a compact camera with manual options
  • usb keys
  • old and outdated portable media players
  • phones
  • mp3 players

Where is Inspire9:

9/83 Dover St, Richmond Melbourne (just down from Richmond Station)

Thanks for your support, we will be sure to keep you posted on your stuff’s journey and the awesomeness it will enable in our growing tech savvy Battambang community.


Hacker Space!

qrcode A few guys here are starting up a hack night – basically a creative space for working on tech projects and doing skillshares. If you know anyone who likes to tinker, please point them in the direction of our sign up form . English is not really a requirement, just motivation and a thing for self directed learning!

Battambang gets WordPressing at Kinyei in June

On Monday 13th June Kinyei commenced its first session of a 4 week open workshop series on WordPress with Alexandra Roberson and Seavyi Yonn as the facilitators. It took place at Street one and half Cafe Shop. Many people from NGO organizations, schools, and myself joined the workshop series for four weeks every Monday from 5:00 to 6:30pm.

I think the WordPress workshop helped me improve and learn many things such as, new and up to date technology, blog designs, web site for the Kinyei organization and my own blog posts.

There are many reasons why I attended the WordPress Open Workshop Series:

  1. I can know and learn the latest technology
  2. Create my perfect WordPress blog
  3. Upload images and video
  4. Learn the importance of widgets to attract people who read your blog. Widgets make it easy for viewers to quickly look at the right of page and navigate to most recent post etc.
  5. People around the world can use WordPress and blogging platforms to share their information, stories and activities via text, photos and video.

These are just some of the many important points I learned at the WordPress workshop series.

The Most interesting point that I found at the Workshop

Learning how to upload pictures to your website was the most interesting point for me in the workshop so I’m going to share how to do this with all of you. Uploading pictures is very important for my blog or and organisation’s website. I think that the reader can understand the activity by just seeing the picture and the text description. It enables the reader to make sense of what you’re talking about easily and quickly.

Here are the steps to uploading pictures to your blog:

First, you need to re-size your picture using Irfan view, Photo Shop or other image editing programs.

Second, save it for ‘the web’ to reduce its file size – (this optimises your images for your website by reducing the time it takes to load your image when a user visits your page).

The participants practise upload picture and video

The participants practise uploading pictures and video

Third, I click on insert picture in WordPress and chose the picture I want to upload. I upload picture which I have already re-sized.

Fourth, I select where I want the image to go by aligning it either to the left, centrel or right of the blog post.

Fifth, I like to tell the readers or audience (including Google as it cannot read images so you need to describe it to Google using descriptions) about my picture by adding alternate text, image title and caption to describe my picture.

Using pictures with text description in our blog or website helps attract and hold viewers attention.

What makes for a good workshop learning environment?

Learning is not only dependent on your instructor but also your classroom environment. I think that Kinyei is a good environment for learning through workshops. For example, at the WordPress workshops they had equipment such as a projector, computers, tables, chairs and a white board  that the facilitator could use to present their workshop. Moreover, Kinyei is a warm and friendly place because it has snacks and drinks for when we had break time. They also asked the participants to complete a feedback form at the end of the series so they can learn how to do it better for the next one. I really like this activity because Kinyei can know about the points they need to improve and the positive points of things they did well. Kinyei always pay attention, take care and are friendly to everyone in their workshops and other projects.

Learning WordPress at Kinyei was a great time for me. I learn many things about WordPress. It also gave me the chance to interact with both Khmer and Foreigners through English language. It’s good time for me to practice English and share ideas about Cambodians and Westerners.