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Our3Q – L’irresistible Café, Cambodia

Marie – CEO and project manager at L’irresistible Café – Cafeteria, which, besides good café and food, provides jobs for mentally disabled people.


Q1: What do you appreciate yourself in the business mainly for?

Two things. One is the relation I created with the employees, especially with two mentally disabled girls. If they are in a bad mood, I’m able to change it quickly, to manage their emotions, help them. The second thing is connected with business itself. When I came to work here few months ago, we were always in the red at the end of the month. Now we start to break even. We can see a real difference, I hope it keeps going that way.


Q2: What is the biggest challenge for you now?

Managing frustration. It is quite difficult to work with Khmer stuff. It’s almost easier to work with disable people. Be patience with disabled people is ok, somehow I expected it, but being so patience also with not disable staff is a little bit more difficult. There are many cultural differences that surface in the way we work. Sometimes I have the feeling they try to take advantage of that. Before, with a Khmer manager, they didn’t do it so much.


Q3: What advice do you have for yourself in this situation?

I think the most important is to like what you do and to know why you do it. I know why this company is running, it’s for a good reason, for disabled people, this thought always gives me the motivation in down time. I have the feeling I can do something meaningful. Very important is also the relation with other people who can help you in a crisis, can support you and remind you that what you are doing make sense.


Would you like to add something more?

This cafeteria is a part of a bigger project in which we support mentally disabled people. Working here is important for them not only because they can be useful and earn some money, but also they can interact with “normal” people. One of our workers, she was very shy at the beginning. But now she has no problem to speak with clients, she learned some English and French. Two other people went to work in another cafeteria, they were skilled enough after practicing here and could start their more independent life.


The questions were asked on our behalf by Anna and Andrea from How to (ex) change the world.


Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 21st November, 2015

ID: 014/100

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