How you can make a difference – Allison Jackes creates real change!

Allison Jackes reporting on Brown Rice Restaurant – 

While in Siem Reap, I met Gemma and her partner Chor. They, along with a couple of Chor’s friends, had opened a restaurant and were struggling with several aspects of it. Having worked in restaurants throughout university, and discussing the restaurants’ struggles, they realized I have extensive knowledge in the functioning and running of restaurants. This is the reason I commenced the role as Capacity Builder and Marketing Administrator for Brown Rice Restaurant.

The roles and projects this position enabled me to be a part of were diverse; from creating marketing materials, developing inventory and ordering systems, promoting through social media, menu development, and conducting trainings with the staff; I was able to tackle many different projects in many different areas.

My work has been both challenging and rewarding. To begin with it was a pleasant surprise to find that the knowledge and skills I had learned over several years in customer service based positions could add value to a local business. Siem Reap is flourishing under the expanding tourism industry and I want to make sure it is not only the foreign run businesses that benefit from this development, but locals too. Furthermore, to help these three socially conscious young men turn their restaurant vision into a reality has been an experience!

Working with a locally owned and run business has also given me a real insight into Khmer culture. Having to tailor some activities and conversations to meet with local Khmer norms allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation for the culture. Furthermore, to see the staff grow as they were continually empowered and challenged has been rewarding.

When I left for Cambodia I was hoping to leave the restaurant world behind, but this experience has shown me that there are always a variety of opportunities; skills and experience that I may not personally hold to high esteem, may actually be invaluable to others and can be used to create real change.

Summer 2014 alison jackes-1