In order to improve the livelihoods of people with disabilities, an online platform, Aspire Arts and Craft, is in development to bridge their occupational needs with tourist demands.
Co-founded by Som Tola, a 21-year-old Cambodian woman, and two other teammates, Aspire hires people with disabilities to craft souvenirs and sell them online.
Screengrab of the prototype website
Customers can browse the various souvenir products on offer, customise the designs and have them delivered to their doorstep. Customers can also book tours to visit local communities.
Noting the present struggles of Cambodians with disabilities, Ms Tola said, “(They) do not have access to the public. They feel inferior compared to able-bodied people. Based on our interviews, most of them say they have such a low background and knowledge that aside from crafting products, they don’t know how to survive in this society. Seeing such difficulty really inspired me to launch Aspire.”
To bring Aspire to reality, Ms Tola and her team entered the SmartSpark Cohort 2. This taught them how to target appropriate customers, as well as how to network and design their business model. Now, her team is doing feasibility studies on the market and consumer behavior. They expect the first version of the website to be launched in the near future.
Ms Tola aims to reach out to travel agencies and student exchange programmes such as the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) to generate interest in Aspire.
To stay tuned in and monitor the progress of Aspire, please visit their Facebook page!