Soieries du Mekong is a social enterprise that has a retail shop in Kandall village in Siem Reap and a production unit in Banteay Chmar, an extremely remote and poor village in north-west Cambodia close to the Thai border, and a former stronghold of the Khmer Rouge. Soieries du Mékong combines French style with the traditional art of hand-weaving to produce unique silk scarves of exceptional quality by mixing natural fivres such as silk / wool / cashmere / linen etc. Between 8 to 12 hours of work is required to weave a scarf on a traditional handloom by which the weaver arranges up to 14,0000 metres of thread to create contemporary fashion pieces of rare finesse and beauty.
Since 2001, Soieries du Mékong has promoted women’s empowerment and trained approximately one hundred women in the art of hand weaving, thus allowing the promotion and transcending of ancestral knowledge from generation to generation, which is also a way to fight against rural exodus. Almost 60 people currently work at Soieries du Mékong Cambodia.
Soieries du Mékong offers traineeships to young women over 18 years of age based on their motivation and income. They undergo six months’ training in weaving, followed by six months’ practical placement. At the same time, the young apprentices take classes in Khmer and mathematics to equip them with the basics they have often missed out on. Once the training cycle is complete, the weavers work from home as independent artisans using looms lent by Soieries du Mékong or the workshop. They are paid according to fair terms and conditions (salary above the village average) and Soieries du Mekong also reimburse 80% of their medical expenses.