SPOONS Provides Young Disadvantaged Adults with Free Hospitality Training

COVER: Photo: SPOONS Cambodia Organization

PHNOM PENH – SPOONS, a local non-profit organization, is giving free hospitality training to young adults to provide them with the right tools to create business opportunities and self-generate their income.

The organization focuses on training young people from poor backgrounds, vulnerable households, minority groups or young adults who have dropped out of school.

SPOONS’s mission is to transmit hospitality skills and knowledge to those in need. Courses include making beverages, cooking, baking, and brewing to teach them useful skills that will help them live independently, said SPOONS’s Director Mao Sophanny.

“We want the poor and vulnerable young people to think that they are valuable and that they still have hopes. SPOONS believes that this mission really gives them opportunities to the ones in need, as we want to,” she said. 

Photo_ SPOONS Cambodia Organization

The training center first opened its gates in Siem Reap province in 2009, under the name EGBOK.  In 15 years, it has trained nearly 500 people since then, of which 60 percent were women. All trainees also received a job opportunity after the course.

The organization trains around 75 people per year, while there are about 600 applicants. The director, however, dreams of seeing the organization being able to receive 150 trainees per year in the future.

Trainees receive a free training course, allowance, accommodation, and healthcare for the whole year. The cost is partly supported by the revenues generated by the Spoons Café and Restaurant, the school café associated with the NGO, and by donations from donors.

 Photo_ SPOONS Cambodia Organization

Potential trainees should be between 18 and 25 years old and from a poor family background to apply. During the selection process, the organization’s team reviews the applicants’ background, household revenues, current incomes, education, lifestyle, if there is some record of domestic violence in the family, children’s studies, sanitation, and health.

The team monitors these aspects until a decision is made to select applicants, Sophanny said.

 Photo_ SPOONS Cambodia Organization

She stressed that the trainees also take language classes – English and Khmer – and computer classes as these are important skills to master to communicate properly and run a business in the hospitality industry.

While the COVID-19 pandemic had a considerable impact on Siem Reap’s tourism industry, the fact the organization is still open is due to the tenacity of its director.

SPOONS’ former parent organization, EGBOK, was shut down during the pandemic, after one of the founders left the team.

But Sophanny didn’t want to let the training center die and reopened the organization in 2021, after receiving suggestions from the founders and board of directors to revive it from the ashes.

She started with only ten trainees at the time. After the registration as a non-governmental organization with the Ministry of Interior, Sophanny changed the name to SPOONS, which has been used to date. 


Originally written in Khmer for ThmeyThmey, this story was translated by Meng Seavmey for Cambodianess. 

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