March 29, 2011

Centre sews seeds of change

The Cambodia Skills Development Center recently held a graduation ceremony for students in two of its vocational training courses – pattern-making and production management for small and medium enterprises. Reporter Tom Brennan interviews one graduate about her experience.

PIN Phallah runs a two-room sewing shop in Phnom Penh’s Toul Tom Poung commune where she and seven employees, all women from the neighbourhood, are responsible for most of the clothes sold at local boutique Spicy Green Mango.

As proud as the 43-year-old single mother is of her work, where she and her staff can turn out as many as 40 or 50 pieces of clothing a day, her shop isn’t quite where she’d like it to be.

Beyond the cramped workspace, Pin Phallah has, until recently, lacked the skills necessary to grow her business.

Like most Cambodian garment workers, she has known only “cut, make, trim”, which is just part of the entire manufacturing process. Nor has she had any formal methods for controlling costs, estimating prices or managing production.

Despite these obstacles, Pin Phallah seems focused on only one thing.

“I want a big business that has a lot of people” working for me, she said, standing outside her studio.

Spicy Green Mango owner Anya Weil wanted to grow her business without leaving Pin Phallah behind, so she reached out to the Cambodia Skills Development Center (CASDEC) for help.

She and CASDEC Director Tep Mona came up with a plan, part of which involved classes for Pin Phallah to take. 


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