Greetings from Cambodia,
After a fantastic two weeks speaking all throughout Australia for the AFA GenXt Roadshow (Australian Financial Advisers Association) I now find myself in Cambodia’s capital and largest city Phnom Penh.
A few months ago I met a rather inspiring lady called Liz Atkinson who is the Managing Director of Zest Marketing Concepts and one of the founders of the League of Extraordinary Women (LOEW). I was invited to speak at LOEW’s first event in Melbourne and it was here that I heard Liz’s own story and was pretty blown away. This sassy blonde lady arrived in Australia as a backpacker and within a short period of time she launched Zest Possibilities which houses a group of million dollar companies on an international stage. She clearly is a savvy businesswoman but she has initiated and collaborated upon several social ventures and her team has raised millions of dollars for Australian & International charities.
A few weeks after LOEW’s successful event I received a call from Liz and we caught up at a café near her South Melbourne office. I had just had a phone call from my mentor Ray Zahab and was buzzing from exciting i2P news and this translated into speaking to Liz at a million miles an hour about my 2012 plans. Luckily Liz also speaks and connects at the million miles an hour pace (I am sure to an outside viewer we must have looked like hyperactive school girls).
Among our many topics of conversation Liz told me about her love for the Cambodian people and the country after travelling there several times. Liz is a big dreamer and sets lofty goals for herself and she let me be privy to her 2012 commitment to invest Zest and her employees to a non-profit project in Cambodia. Enamored by her unwavering commitment and passion I couldn’t resist in telling Liz that I wanted to help her make that goal happen.
So here I am in Cambodia and my brief is to identify legitimate and deserving projects that Zest can contribute to, as well as credible NGO’s that Zest could possibly partner with. Zest hopes to send 15 employees to Cambodia to volunteer with the chosen project and I have no doubt that they will also put their skills in fundraising to good use.
I was given a few contacts of people to meet up with but I have also spent the past month researching and reaching out to other individuals and organisation to connect with whilst I am here. Even during my presentations at the AFA Roadshow I found out that the AFA sends some their members to Siem Reap to volunteer as apart of the 1Percent team and I will meet up with them next week.
Cambodia is a hub of non-profits; some doing fabulous work and some with possibly good intentions but poor follow through. There is also a plethora of ‘middle men organisations’ that charge hefty fees to international volunteers and little of that money ever makes it to the non-profit. After two days in Phnom Penh I met with two orphanages/schools and one organisation that coordinates NGO’s with volunteer groups. There is a lot of scope for the expertise that Zest employees could offer the schools I met, especially in the realm of teaching marketing and sales skills.
I am looking forward to the next phase of my trip where I leave the capital and head to the countryside. My feet are itching in anticipation to explore Cambodia’s national parks with some long runs.