Monday, March 8, 2010

Cambodian-Expat Social Entrepreneur Becomes An Advisor

I joined Debbie Watson, a long-time Cambodian expat, microfinance expert and social entrepreneur for a tour of her new venture, FunkyJunk, an innovative social enterprise that makes beautiful and functional products from discarded plastic bags reclaimed from the streets and fields of Cambodia.

Debbie is on a personal mission to tackle the scourge of discarded, non-biodegradable plastic bags that litter the Cambodian landscape, hoping to develop a model that can be expanded throughout SE Asia and other developing countries.

“People in many countries are now very aware of the need to stop using plastic bags in their own country,” she says. “But in poorer nations this is often not the case, and especially not in Cambodia. By purchasing FunkyJunk products, consumers can contribute to a cleaner environment in countries less fortunate than their own, as well as making their home or office look funky too!”

FunkyJunk operates in accordance with fair trade standards and each product is labeled with the number of bags that have been reclaimed. After success in the local marketplace, she’s looking to move into the export market, and is seeking GIVE’s assistance via our Marketers Without Borders program in opening up international markets for FunkyJunk products.

Debbie is currently working with Mercy Corps in Indonesia, consulting on a variety of microfinance projects. Drawing from her extensive knowledge on microfinance and poverty alleviation, Debbie is assisting GIVE in establishing operations in Cambodia, including a new Urban Entrepreneurship Center (UEC) that is slated to come online later this year.

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