Ethical Consumption: Art & Craft in Cambodia

Artisan d'Angkor was originally an off-shoot of Chantiers-Ecoles de formation professionnelle, a professional training school, which was founded to help young Cambodians rediscover traditional handicrafts. The CEFP is a public institution which was established in response to an urgent need to train disadvantaged young people with little formal education, living for the most part in rural areas, and offer them a job entry program.

Artisan supports these efforts in show casing traditional Cambodian art & craft. They also undertake the training of 47 craftsmen and the company employs about a 1000 people of which 5% are disabled. The business model is based on fair-trade and ethical consumerism. They have also pioneered a new social policy in Cambodia. The craftsmen's associated owns a 20% share in the company.

Cambodia's famous art of stone-carving is featured at Atrisans using only natural stone. The wood used for wood-carvings is environment-friendly from rubber trees from the Rattanakiri, Mondolkiri and Kapong Cham province. They also train artisans in silk-weaving and they use natural dyes in the process of creating their exquisite scarfs and shawls.

With an Artisans' product you know that you investing a piece of ethical consumer gold. Not only is it fair trade but it has also received one of the highest levels of sustainability in its production of these crafts. The expert panel from UNESCO recently awarded two Artisans d’Angkor items  with the “Seal of Excellence for Handicrafts”. This award is granted to product which meets high standards of quality, innovating, cultural authenticity, as well as social and environmentally responsible production.

From the main Artisan's shop in Siem Reap you can visit a silk farm where you can observe artisans harvesting silk threads. Other than a shop in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap they have also recently opened shops in both airports. If you are ever in Cambodia and happen to miss visiting the main shop, you can always have a wee browse through the shops in the airport. Although the collections are not so extensive, their space in the airport is tastefully decorated just as the city shops are.

Photo: Stone-worker at Artisans. d'Angkor. Akhila Vijayaraghavan ©