From school dropout to small business whizz

Although education has undoubtedly improved in Cambodia over the last decade, many children still drop out of school at a young age, particularly in rural areas where good schools may be very far away and the pressures of poverty drive children into working early.

Sophea from Kampong Thom was one of these students, and dropped out at a very early age, before he’d completed grade 7. After spending some time working locally to support his family, he took the frightening step of travelling to Phnom Penh to be a construction worker for a few months. Unfortunately, low wages meant that he didn’t earn enough income to support his family, so he decided to return home. He felt frightened of the future, unsure of what options he had without an education behind him.

Luckily, he came into contact with a local NGO who told him about our Moto Doctor social enterprise, which aims to give young people from very challenging circumstances the training and self confidence they need to learn valuable new skills in motorbike repair. Sophea set off on a long journey yet again, and came to Siem Reap, but this time with a much more optmistic feeling: “As soon as I arrived at Moto Doctor I felt like I had another chance in life, a chance to grow. I loved Moto Doctor most because it was about sharing and caring, we share food together and look after each other as we are all from the same background.”

Sophea certainly seized the opportunity with both hands. He became one of the best students at Moto Repair, and was instantly hired by a local motorbike repair shop when he graduated after our course. But even having come so far, Sophea missed his home and also had new and bigger hopes. “My dream was to open my own motorbike repair shop in my home town.”

We love to make the dreams of hard working young Cambodians like Sophea come true, so we supported him in his new ambition and helped him to get the right tools for the job. This didn’t just mean physical tools like spanners and wrenches, but business tools like being able to balance the books and offer good customer service.

This month our team had the joy and privilege of travelling to his home town to hand over his Moto Doctor graduation certificate and help him soft launch his new business outside the family home. It was incredibly rewarding to see Sophea’s new self-confidence and his excitement for his future. We wish him luck in his bright new future.

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