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Sala Baï, Cambodia

Fight poverty and human trafficking through Vocational Training in the Hospitality Industry

Sala Bai provides hands-on vocational training school to selected bright and motivated underprivileged children in Cambodia, covering about a third of the program’s cost by operating its own training restaurant and hotel.

How the initiative makes a difference

Sala Bai selects 150 bright and motivated teenagers per year among the poorest of the poor and offers them a free 1-year vocational training in the hospitality industry. 70% of the students are girls as they are the most vulnerable to sexual trafficking. The school operates a training restaurant and hotel to allow students to train in real conditions and to cover 31% of the costs with their own revenues. Students conduct two internships in two different hotels (partnerships include 20 4 & 5* hotels and 10 international chains).

100% of the students have a job within weeks weeks after graduation with an entry salary 3- to 4-times higher than the income of their families. All students send money home to support their siblings’ education. After 3-4 years they earn a salary in the lower range of Cambodian middle class.

How we engage

McKinsey for Children has supported 72 children since 2013 (including 15 for the school year 2019-2020). The funding pays off multiple times as these students send money back home for the education of their siblings. We also advised the initiative on its planning and brought best practices into its operations. Juliette Audet (Alumnus NYO and GVO, who worked in another NGO in Cambodia in 2012 and visited Sala Bai multiple times, is also directly involved in supporting Sala Bai raising awareness and funds in the US.

Why it matters

Around 30% of the population lives below the poverty line in Cambodia, a country that is just recovering from a violent war. In rural areas, large families live with less than 1 USD a month and suffer from malnutrition. Girls are exposed to the risk of sexual trafficking and have traditionally less access to education. Over 30% of births are not officially registered.