Dear friends and supporters of Aziza’s Place,
As most of you know, Aziza’s Place embarked on an ambitious social enterprise venture called Aziza’s Coffee (a mobile coffee cart) in 2014 created primarily to employ parents (mostly mothers) of the children in our care. In addition, by operating out of the only solar-powered tuk-tuk in Cambodia (at that time) and offering a discount in exchange for used plastics, Aziza’s Coffee’s secondary aim was to raise awareness of environmental challenges in Cambodia and encourage recycling.
After operating mainly around the Russian Market area of Phnom Penh for almost three years, Aziza’s Place has had to wind up the business for several reasons, including staff retention, increased competition from other mobile coffee carts and fully air-conditioned coffee shops, and a lack of timely access to spare parts for our solar-powered tuk-tuk.
While the initial idea of a solar-powered mobile coffee-cart, manned by some of the mothers of the children in our care selling coffee and snacks and encouraging a plastics exchange was well intentioned, the reality proved far more challenging. At the onset, the mothers that were selected loved all the aspects of being an AC employee; a steady income, skills training and learning how to drive a tuk-tuk, affording them a freedom that they heretofore lacked. However, they soon tired of the fundamental requirement to report to work on a daily basis, much preferring the flexibility provided by working for themselves collecting plastics for recycling, albeit for lower earnings. Finding replacements also proved challenging even as we expanded the search for candidates to man the coffee-cart from other pools, including university students seeking part-time work.
From a competition stand-point, no one foresaw the intense competition from better funded, multiple mobile coffee-carts that operated on scale and across several parts of Phnom Penh as well as the explosion in fully air-conditioned coffee shops that sprang up on almost ever corner, and continue to do so today.
While disheartened by having to take the decision to curtail the Aziza’s Coffee social enterprise, AP Management and Board view the exercise in a positive note, having learned of the challenges to a business idea with very low barriers to entry.
We Thank You all for the support shown to get this social business up and running. We also ask for your understanding behind our reasons for recognizing when to stop. As part of our exiting the business, we are currently seeking to sell our stock and the solar-powered tuk-tuk in Cambodia for a reasonable offer.
With Kindest Regards,
Aziza’s Place / Aziza’s Coffee