Good Business: How Social Enterprises Are Changing Southeast Asia
Within a vast inner-city Melbourne shopping centre, Koky Saly is standing inside his pop-up shop, a stylish cube of glass and steel, telling customers his story. Charming and gregarious, his enthusiasm is palpable as he extols the virtues of his merchandise to a couple browsing.
Each backpack sold, he tells them, will help fund an entire year of English classes for children in rural Cambodia. The money from the iPad covers – all his own designs – will go towards providing clean renewable energy sources to light up the children’s long nights. “We actually have the ability to buy children time,” he says.
Saly was born in a prison during the horrors of the Khmer Rouge, the murderous regime led by Pol Pot that seized power in Cambodia in 1975. During the regime’s four-year rule, an estimated two million people – a quarter of the population – died from starvation, exhaustion, execution or lack of medical care. Saly spent the first three years of his life behind bars; his mother was pregnant when the civil war broke out and was imprisoned, tortured and starved.