Operating since 2003 from a shopfront in Riverside, Kravan House was one of Cambodia’s first locally owned social enterprises. After war and instability left the country with limited infrastructure and few manufacturers it took a long time for any industries to establish, let alone employ disabled people. Kravan House was founded by Mrs Thanan Hok to provide training and employment opportunities to women and men who had been disabled due to landmines, polio, congenital issues and other physical challenges. Mrs Hok was born with a disability and was strongly motivated to overcome the stigma to create a business that would support people with disabilities. Some of her team have been with her since the very beginning and she has also trained and mentored many more.
Thanan closed her retail shop in 2020 in the early months of the COVID pandemic. This was a very difficult decision for her, but ultimately she was forced to. During the pandemic Flying Fox Fabrics continued to send fabric from Australia and place orders for accessories to be made and became one of Kravan House’s few sources of ongoing business and income for two years. Kravan House is responsible for the ever popular Serena, Nancy, Frankie and Chris bags, plus Carla purses.
Some of the Kravan House production staff are based in a small workshop north of the Phnom Penh CBD in Tuol Sangke, and this is also the training site. Many of the staff have mobility issues so creating an appropriate workplace is important. Senior, more accomplished craftspeople work from home where they have been set up with necessary equipment. Some staff have become master craftspeople, working on specialised products and training others.
In total Kravan House has around 30 staff working on and offsite and their workshop is small and simple and has 12 machines.