Published on January 27th, 2014 | by Ganna Pogrebna

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New Business Model for Charitable Giving

Cambodian hot tourist spot – the city of Siem Reap – offers many attractions as well as many great places to eat. In the middle of the city close to the Old Market you can find a restaurant called “Haven”. At first glance, one may think that it is just a restaurant but it is so much more than that!

Several years ago, Swiss couple Sara and Paul Wallimann founded a charity Dragonfly (http://dragonflycambodia.org). They decided to lead the development of projects to support underprivileged teenagers in Cambodia. With the help of friends and donors, Sara and Paul built a training restaurant “Haven” which allows teenagers in difficult circumstances to learn a wide variety of restaurant jobs. Yet, Dragonfly supports only those projects which fulfil one important requirement: any project which depends on external donations should become profitable and self-sustainable over time. “Haven” is a great example of this business model. For the first 18 months of the project, it was supported by charitable donations. Currently, it is a profitable and self-sustained restaurant business ranked #1 in Siem Reap on TripAdvisor by over 1,200 people (http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g297390-d2446212-Reviews-Haven_Training_Restaurant-Siem_Reap_Siem_Reap_Province.html).

“Haven” is an example of an overall win-win situation. When leaving the “Haven” family, Cambodian teenagers speak English, finish school and have unique skills which allow them to be employable in virtually any top restaurant. The customers adore the “Haven” restaurant: the food is absolutely divine and many people are ready to wait for days to get in. My husband and I for example had to book 10 days in advance to get a table there. If you think about it, the business model of “Haven” is very attractive as it not only helps teenagers in Cambodia but most importantly it teaches them how to help themselves.

Recently, Dragonfly started a new project. This time, Sara and Paul are planning to build “Haven” training guesthouse with the same idea of making it self-sustained business over time: http://dragonflycambodia.org/en/projects/haven-training-guesthouse/. I don’t know about you, but I will definitely support this project. After all, donating to Dragonfly is not just charitable giving, it is investment in the future of business models for charitable giving.

 

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Ganna Pogrebna is an Associate Professor with the Service Systems research group at WMG. Ganna studies how decision-makers reveal their preferences, learn, co-ordinate and make trade-offs in static and dynamic risk and uncertain environments with policy applications to innovation, leadership, finance and healthcare.

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