Soria Moria Educational Development Program.

Soria Moria Educational Development Program.

Organization type: 
for profit
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

"To create a better place to live in and a better place to visit"

Soria Moria Educational development Program is an initiative to empower locals through higher education, onsite management training and Share ownership.

Our Vision:

1)To become the first choice of accommodation for independent travelers and small groups visiting Cambodia, by offerinc travelers a unique experience of true hospitality through combining the best of local history, culture and environment with international standards of service and facilities.
2)To become the first choice of workplace for Cambodian locals by focusing on quality and development of the staff through best business practice, following labor laws, on-site hospitality training and education on a higher level & ownership in the business.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Cambodia has a recent history of war and political instability, and a genocide that killed over 20% of the population; including most of the educated citizens of the country. Peace finally returned to the country in 1998. Cambodia is a currently experiencing rapid development and economic growth, however, the country is still heavily affected by its recent history. The economic benefits are unevenly distributed and a large part of the population still suffers from poverty, corruption, poor healthcare and education systems and lack of opportunities. There are more than 3000 NGO’s in Cambodia. With little state funding, most organisations have to look elsewhere for resources and many are competing for the same pot of money. Some NGO’s fail because they haven’t done enough research, or have failed to identify a genuine need that has not yet been addressed, or are more concerned about meeting the needs of the donor rather than addressing the real issues they are trying to deal with. Others have failed because they have forgotten to establish ways to make the project self-sustainable, but are reliant on a constant flow of funding, which in turn has caused many projects to close down and consequently created a worse situation the initial circumstances. Despite millions of tourists visiting Angkor every year, Siem Reap remains one of the poorest provinces in Cambodia, and Orphanage Tourism and NGO scams has become a problem.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

• SMEDP believes that essential factors in the development process is to facilitate economic growth, create secure workplaces, provide education on higher level and to encourage development of socially responsible leaders to bring the country forward. It is important to work in accordance with the government’s development goals. We believe that in the long run, this proactive approach will prevent many other problems to occur. SMEDP is operated through Soria Moria Boutique Hotel, which will ensure the project to be financially self-sustainable. • Gender equality is fundamental in the hotels organization and females hold more than half of the managerial and supervisor positions. This project, where the employees are taken on as partners and majority owners in the business, is the first project of its kind in Cambodia. The majority of the locals involved come from farmer families living below the poverty line, born with little opportunities to move forward in life. They are empowered through training, increased responsibility and ownership. Without any financial security it is impossible to obtain even a small bank loan, which limits the possibility to start a business to wealthy people. This is a unique opportunity for local entrepreneurs. In addition to be financially beneficial and provide an excellent platform for personal development which will help secure their future position in the competitive employment market, we hope to build confidence and self-esteem and nourish a feeling of being able to achieve. The model is also easy to expand and duplicate.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The initial idea behind Soria Moria was to combine a business opportunity with a strong focus on helping the community in which we work through various means, especially by contribution to economic development. We actively support and encourage the interaction of guests and the neighboring environment, and by implementing this approach, we would like to create a win-win-win situation for all parties involved, where both the tourists, the local environment and the business itself will benefit. To ensure financial sustainability the project is operated through Soria Moria Boutique Hotel, with 38 guestrooms and International Restaurant and a bar. We have 40 full time staff (all local) and 7 paid trainees Soria Moria is a social mission driven organization that applies market-based strategies to achieve a social purpose, where parts of the surplus are reinvested back into the local community. Through Soria Moria Educational Development Program the local employees have recently become majority owners of the business, accounting for 51% of the shares. The share ownership is determined based on seniority and responsibilities in the hotel. Programs Soria Moria Has initiated: - Soria Moria Trainee Program (There are currently have 7 paid trainees in Soria Moria) - Soria Moria Higher Education Program (There are currently twelve students enrolled in university) - Weekly Training Nights - Annual Educational staff training trips - Soria Moria Guide to Cambodia - Siem Reap Traffic Safety Initiative Other actions taken: - Insurance & National Social Security Fund Supporting the local economy& using local suppliers - Point of contact/ source of information - Environmental practices - Child Safe certified - Concert Member - Heritage Friendly gold status - ConCERT supporting member
About You
Soria Moria
About You
About Your Organization
Organization Name

Soria Moria

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

Please select

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Kristin was born 1980 in Norway. She holds a Diploma of International Hotel Management, a BA in Tourism &Hospitality Management from ICMS and a Master of International Business from Macquarie University in Australia, and is currently conducting a specializing course in International Communications and Global Cooperation (distant learning) through the University of Mission and Theology in Norway. Kristin was in 2009 selected as a Paragon 2009 follow by FYSE and honoured with ICMS’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2010. She has travelled extensively around the world and developed a strong interest in Sustainable Tourism Development & linking business operation with outreach to the local communities. Kristin has a solid international background in the hospitality industry through her experience as a front office trainee at Clarion Collection Hotel Atlantic where she upon completion of her training period was asked to act as a temporary Reservation Manager, host at Sydney Olympic Stadium and Sydney Opera House, Function & Event Coordinator at Captain Cook Cruises and lecturer in Marketing Management & Consumer Behaviour at ITI’s campus in Thailand. She was one of the founders of Earthwalkers, where she worked as the GM in the development stage, Country Manager for WHL Cambodia in the development stage, and founder of Soria Moria Boutique Hotel where she currently works as an educator and project coordinator. She initiated EWF, SM Higher Education Program and is also an ambassador for NEDO and Sangkheum Center for Children.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

We believe that capacity building starts with the individual. Since the opening of Soria Moria Boutique Hotel, the local employees have received ongoing training and have step by step been given more responsibility and gained experience in managing the day to day operation of the hotel. Through our higher education program 9 members of staff are sponsored to study in bachelors and 3 masters in university. Through weekly department head meetings, monthly all-staff meetings, yearly staff-trips, on-site language lessons, management training, cross-training and sponsorships to university, they have become hard-working, knowledgeable, loyal employees with pride in their jobs, eager to provide the best possible service. As can be seen from guest’s feedback; comment cards, guestbook, online reviews, the professionalism and friendliness of the local staff is what makes Soria Moria “a hotel with a heart” and staff are climbing up the career ladder. This has been the first stage in a process to empower the locals.
The second step in this process has been to hand over 51 percent of the ownership of the hotel business to the local employees. The local staff are currently being trained to take over the responsibility and management of the operation of the hotel and its outreach programs. As a third step, we will look at options to hand over the remaining 49% of the ownership to the local employees, or look at ways to use this platform to grow the business. We are very proud of each of the management team members – some truly inspiring stories about people, who, with a lot of determination and hard work, have managed to work their way out of poverty and up the career ladder: who stand up as good role models and motivate others to follow their path - which we look at as a successfactor. In terms of financials, the hotel is already operating financially self suficcient and meets the budget set out.

How many people have been impacted by your project?


How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

101- 1,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

As a third step we aim to hand over the remaining 49% of the ownership, and ways to grow the business. This will be re-evaluated each year on our GA. We are already searching potential locations for expansion. This is a good learning experience for the local partners, and will also be more profitable. The management team members have worked their way up the career ladder and out of poverty now stand up as good role models for others to follow. With a new location we hope to reallocate some staff and give room for more staff to climb the career ladder. We always look for new projects to engage in to expand our outreach programs. The next step will be to put in place a class room where the locals staff will offer Khmer literacy classes for adults how cannot read and write.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

There are no policy or restrictions with respect to price setting and in practise there are no real standard for qualifying for star ratings. It’s easy to market a so-called 4-star hotel for guesthouse prices. Taxation authorities allows room for negotiation. Being a business striving to operate with good business practices and employee protections it’s is hard to compete with hotels that runs the business with other practices (exploitation of cheap labour). Many agents are pushing their suppliers to have responsible practices which is good - however with limited experience/research, places are supporting projects set up to make money from well-intended tourists. Children are taken from their families to live in “orphanages”, “Orphanage Tourism” and NGO-scams have become a new problem.

Tell us about your partnerships

In term of receiving customers we work with several local inbound and international agents, as well as international booking agents. We also have special rates for NGO's whic is a large part of our customer market.

Soria Moria is selective when choosing suppliers and partners. Wherever possible we purchase local goods and use local suppliers and transportation/guides, and wherever possible we try to select organizations that will have a direct impact on improving people’s life chances. This includes food products, furniture’s, decorations, linen, uniforms, etc.


Soria Moria is a supporting member of ConCERT.
Soria Moria’s staff are trained and certified by Childsafe, and we keep information in all rooms, on our website and our lobby.
In collaboration with 3 local NGO’s; Anjali House, Sangkheum Center for Children and NEDO, Soria Moria is proud to provide trainee positions for their Young Adult Preparation Programs.

Our cooking oil is recycled and given to Angkor Children’s Hospital to be used for Biodiesel for their generator, and our food waste is given to local pig farmers.

The Young Adults from The Sangkheum Center for Children comes to perform traditional APSARA dance in the hotel’s restaurant every Friday. The performance is free of charge, but we encourage donations to the Sangkheum center.

In our Boutique Shop on the ground floor we sell products from various organizations and Fair Trade projects we endorse, such as This Life Cambodia, Love Cards, Ibis Rice, Friends International, Sala Bai, KeoK’jey, PEPY Ride, Anjali House, The Silk Lab, Cambodia Nits & Cambodian Red Cross. Great souvenirs or gifts to bring home and the money will be spent with a good conscious.

Explain your selections

Soria Moria Educational Development Program is operated through Soria Moria Boutique Hotel, which will ensure the project to be financially self-sustainable.
The initial start up cost for the hotel was possible with a low interest private loan.
the loan is paid back through the operation of the business.
The handover of 51% of the shares to the local employee was given as a donation.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

As described above in the Partnership section, we have good collaboration with several local organization, both in terms of marketing and support, creating advocacy and awareness, display and sales of their section. This is an important factor to develop young socially responsible leaders, to engage travellers, and also to create a win-win-win situation where both the local community, the travelers and the business can benefit - It aids and creates goodwill in the society, low turnover and quality employees and happy customers who receive a good impression of the host country.

We always strive to improve, both in terms of the business operation, and profitability of the business as can be seen in our budgets, and in terms of our employee development programs and community outreach program. For this purpose we have set up an advisory board of Industry specialist who can help us evaluate and advise our program from a more objective perspective.
We encourage our customers as well as our partners to engange in our projects.

Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.


Lack of skills/training


Need for regulatory/policy support


Lack of access to information and networks

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

For lack of training & education we have initiating our own onsite training, language and sponsorships to higher education.There is no restriction/policy on pricing, which results in price dumping. Labour laws and minimum wages are often not followed, and taxation allows room for negotiation, and it’s harder for businesses operating ethically to compete on costs. SM is set up to become financially self-sustainable from the operation, and have to charge a higher price for that, but we believe that in the long run both employees and guest will appreciate this approach. We try to work with Cambodia Hotel Association to implement more policies and regulations . We try to network and find partners to collaborate bot on a national and international level.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.


Influenced other organizations and institutions through the spread of best practices


Repurposed your model for other sectors/development needs


Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

As mentioned above, the third step is to look at ways to either hand over remaining 49% of the business to the local employees, or to use this platform as a model to grow the business. This will empower the local employees and give them a better standpoint to continue to develop. We are also hoping that this new model can be a good example of how responsible tourism and good business practices can benefit a large part of the population, and be duplicated in other businesses.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

NGOs/Nonprofits, For profit companies, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

As described above in the Partnership section, we have good collaboration with several local organization, both in terms of marketing and support, creating advocacy and awareness, display and sales of their section. This is an important factor to develop young socially responsible leaders, to engage travellers, and also to create a win-win-win situation where both the local community, the travelers and the business can benefit - It aids and creates goodwill in the society, low turnover and quality employees and happy customers who receive a good impression of the host country.