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We are a collaborative project space expanding our efforts into a community cafe in Battambang, Cambodia.
We are a collaborative project space expanding our efforts into a community cafe in Battambang, Cambodia.
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116 backers pledged $10,186 to help bring this project to life.

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Kinyei recognized by Wild Asia as regional leader in sustainable tourism!

Kinyei was named as the winner of the Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Initiative category for the 2015 Wild Asia Awards this past month.

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.

As an initiative aimed at creating sustainable social change through youth focused social enterprises in hospitality and tourism, we’re excited to receive the award for both of these tremendous efforts behind Soksabike and Kinyei. 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!

Soksabike Manager, Yurie Nagashima, accepted the award on behalf of Kinyei in September in Bangalore, India. It was an opportunity to showcase Kinyei’s mission, and Battambang’s unique potential on a world stage. Yurie also spoke 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 thank you! In this respect, we will head to India to collect the award on behalf of the larger Kinyei family.

We will absolutely keep you all posted with an update from India, but 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!

Sakana competes for Cambodia on the world stage

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Kinyei cafe superstar Sakana Long recently competed against the region’s best baristas at the FHA 2014 Barista Challenge held in Singapore’s Expo Center between April 8 -11. Asia Pacific’s top baristas were invited to the event with 13 countries represented, including Cambodia, which sent along Sakana. 

It was Kinyei's first international competition, and followed the cafe’s second national win in Phnom Penh at the CRA Cambodia Barista Championships. The 2012 Cambodia Barista Championships winner and Sakana’s coach, Untac Nem, accompanied Sakana over on her first ever international flight and Kinyei’s co-founder Melina Chan met them in Singapore to help with logistics and cheerleading. 

This event was truly at another level - most competitors owned their own roasters and cafes. The competition is a 15 minute performance where 12 coffees are made and presented to the judges - 4 espressos, 4 cappuccinos and 4 of the competitor's signature drink, based on the World Barista Championships’ format. 

With her signature drink, Sakana wanted to showcase the local blend she had selected - from Chaing Mai, Luang Prabang and Mondulkiri - and paired it with pineapple syrup and honey, both sourced from Cambodia (she brought them in her luggage across from Cambodia to Singapore!). 

When it was finally Sakana’s turn to take the stage she was pretty nervous and by the end of her preparation time she hadn’t quite gotten the grind right, which meant she had to continue adjusting once her competition time had started. With an unfamiliar grinder and mounting pressure, she was still working at it 5 minutes into her 15 minute performance. Minutes went by and she was still under- and over-shooting the adjustment. It must have been devastating, but she did not give up despite the ticking clock and, no doubt, burnt fingers from all the espresso cup cleaning! 

Finally at 10 minutes Sakana hit a good pour and, instantly hitting form, used her remaining time to complete her performance, serving and presenting her signature drink in the nick of time. It was an amazing recovery from what must have felt like an impossible situation. 

The team was short some of the necessary equipment (each barista is responsible for bringing their own cups, saucers, jugs, everything) on arrival, so the first 12 hours were spent racing around Singapore. Neither Sakana nor Untac had ever really used public transport before and navigating the MRT proved to be a fun challenge for both of them. In the end we found everything we needed thanks to our very generous new friends at Bettr Barista. 

Sakana, despite problems with the grinder and stage fright, along with tackling a presentation in English rather than her native Khmer, managed to finish within the allowable time limit. Head Judge Jake Hu loved the strong cocoa flavours in Sakana’s blend, adding that he really liked the “good, rich aroma and flavour”. He said the blend has a lot of potential, and he also loved the pineapple in Sakana’s signature drink, describing it as a “tropical sensation.” 

New Zealand took out the title, while Japan came 2nd and Singapore 3rd. At the end of the day, Sakana was obviously disappointed; she wanted to be able to put her best out there and see how it stacked up in the international arena. But it took an amazing strength of character to work through a problem like that in an utterly overwhelming setting; everyone was incredibly proud of her, and the whole team who worked to get her there. Sak was very proud of her own accomplishments too. And with any luck, it won’t be the last time we see Kinyei at an international barista competition. 

Thanks to everyone out there for all of your support, of course, without which none of this would have been possible. The opportunities the team can create and access themselves now are definitely beyond anything they could have once imagined and we feel very lucky to have been able to share this journey. 

Sakana backstage
Sakana backstage

 Love, Kinyei 

In case you haven't heard...

Hi Everyone!

In case you haven't heard, we're fundraising again, this time to ensure for the sustainability of the Kinyei projects for the future. 

We're down to the last three days:

http://startsomegood.com/Venture/kinyei/Campaigns/Show/coffee_cycling_and_community

We're humbled by (and thrilled with) the support we've gotten so far. Happily we've raised $12k, but with the momentum we've got now, we're energized about reaching our total goal of $23k, the amount we'll need to train internal managers and begin the handover.

Thank you for your support in making this project real in the first place, and thank you to those that have shared the project and given again.

Any amount you'd be willing to donate and however you'd be able to share around would surely be appreciated! We're calling on you, the original backers, to spread the word to anyone that might be interested. We're so close!

Signing off from hot and drizzly Battambang,

The Kinyei Team

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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.

Read the complete story at our website  http://www.kinyei.org/story-kinyei

And check out our latest campaign for sustainability at http://startsomegood.com/Venture/kinyei/Campaigns/Show/coffee_cycling_and_community

Thanks for your continued support!

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Kinyei by the numbers

It's fun to see what our numbers can tell about our story, have a look:

Project: Cafe

2 - trainings given by Kinyei baristas to outside baristas
4 - cafe staff moved into other Kinyei projects
20 - volunteers engaged for help or training
18 - events hosted
18 - staff received training
30 - % revenue spent on staff
94 - % recommended on TripAdvisor (rating excellent or very good)
7 -  staff trained in financial, communications, technology office processes
15 - open workshops held
150 - open workshop participants
148 - facebook likes
4,100 - coffees served

Project: Soksabike

2 - industry partnerships
6 - number of volunteers engaged
16 - number of staff trained
90 - facebook likes
419 - customers taken to the countryside
100 - % excellent or very good TripAdvisor rating

Project: Sammaki

6 - Local artist exhibitions

8 - workshops held on various creative processes(block printing, photography, composting, portraiture, image transfer)
10 - events held in the space(film festival, art walk venue, graphic novel presentation, noise art performance)
35 - volunteers engaged
800 - visitors to the space
$2,000 - commission of artwork sold to run Sammaki
$6,000 - value of artwork sold

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