Siem Reap is the capital of the Siem Reap province in northwest Cambodia. Despite being the 5th largest city in Cambodia, the city attracts approximately 2.5 million tourists annually to visit the Angkor Archeological Park, which is located just 3km north of the city center. Each year, these visitors spend around US $100 million on souvenirs alone. Nevertheless, the people living in the province of Siem Reap continue to rank 3rd poorest of all 24 provinces in Cambodia with 25% of the population living in poverty (less than $1.50 per day).
AHA is not your typical Cambodian NGO. AHA has never received outside funding. As a business co-operative, AHA has covered all start-up costs with membership fees and profits from sale of the Seal of Authenticity; all other miscellaneous expenses have been shared by the members. AHA has gotten through its first year because of the dedication of its members who believe in the impact that locally made souvenirs can have in a place like Siem Reap.
Unfortunately, AHA has faced tough competition with other local markets offering cheaper prices on their factory produced goods from abroad. Many tourists are unaware of the immense poverty that exists in the most visited province in Cambodia and how much something as simple as buying their souvenirs locally can make a difference in the lives of the poor.
Right now, AHA needs your help in kick starting a new marketing campaign to educate tourists on the impact of buying local and responsible tourism. Please donate what you can today.
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Photo Credit: Remi Abad, 3/6/14 on a visit to a village that produces baskets for sale at AHA.
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