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Thursday, April 7 • 9:00am - 9:30am
Buy and Save: How Social Businesses in Cambodia Package Charity for Sale

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This study based on 101 interviews with clients and administrators at NGOs in Cambodia was undertaken to learn how social business ventures represent charitable efforts to donors and customers, and how those narratives compare to internal and community perceptions of NGO social business activity. Social businesses transmit a particular image of charity through each element of their business design. Pragmatic interests in job creation and alternative revenue streams are combined with aspirational statements about alleviating poverty, providing refuge, and changing the lives of Cambodian people. Social businesses attempt to ameliorate poverty by providing poor Cambodians with jobs and job-training. They create these jobs by establishing a commercial foothold in the tourist industry. This model is successful in that it provides tangible benefit to the client-employees of social-business NGOs. However, mimicry of for-profit business structures shields customer-donors from the realities of social-business models, which generally follow local Cambodian for-profit standards. The re-framing of tourist purchase as instantiated charity may create an additional perverse incentive for social businesses, since they must dissociate their products from the client-employee labor that is central to their model.


Jessica White

I am a graduate student in the MFA program, specializing in creative nonfiction. My work concentrates on issues of gender identity, sexuality, and embodiment.

Thursday April 7, 2016 9:00am - 9:30am
Big Horn Room UW Student Union

Attendees (3)