Pink-orange sunset over Cambodia.

Café sustainability

17 November 2020

The article at a glance

Footprints Café, a social venture supported by Cambridge Judge Business School, is included in the Lonely Planet Best in Travel List 2021 for its focus on community. 

Footprints Café, a social venture supported by Cambridge Judge Business School, is included in the Lonely Planet Best in Travel List 2021 for its focus on community. 

Georgina Hemmingway

Footprints Café
, a social venture in Cambodia founded by former Cambridge Judge Business School student Georgina Hemmingway and supported by the School, has been included in the Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2021 list announced today (17 November). This year’s Lonely Planet list has been refocused on sustainability and community at a time of disruption to the travel industry, and the judges cited Footprints Café’s work in helping to lift people out of poverty.

Footprints Café was supported by the Cambridge Social Ventures programme, part of the Business School’s Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation. Georgina earned the Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship at the School in 2014, and is a past president and active participant in the Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre at Cambridge Judge.

“We are delighted to be included in the Lonely Planet list, and especially this year given the focus on community and sustainability,” said Georgina. “The journey of Footprints Café shows that social enterprise can make a big difference in people’s lives while providing a really valuable service.”

Located in the northwestern Cambodia town of Siem Reap, near the fabled Angkor Wat temple complex, the largest religious building in the world, Footprints Café blends traditional Khmer cuisine with a unique approach to coworking which economically empowers the local community. Footprints Café is a restaurant, bookshop and event space in one, with more than 3,000 book titles donated by supporters and friends all over the world. It also sells books, gift cards and note pads for local charities and social enterprises.

“What impressed our panel most about the Footprint Café was that in a province where an estimated 45 per cent of residents live below the poverty line, it was a project deliberately set up to make a difference and help locals escape that cycle of poverty,” Lonely Planet said in announcing Footprints Café’s inclusion in the list.

Georgina Hemmingway with the café’s general manager, Pheakdey Yon (2019)

“By providing access to employment and training, plus heavily discounted or free coworking space to Cambodian start-ups, the benefits are already being felt with a number of successful local businesses and projects spring-boarding from the café, such as a literary program for vulnerable girls.”

“It also invests 100 per cent of its net profits back into the community as grants for local educational or entrepreneurial projects, and has ethically-sourced local produce available in the café too, creating a sustainable business cycle.”

Given the upheaval in travel caused by the coronavirus, this year’s Lonely Planet Best in Travel List for the first time included not only places but also people and communities. The list has also been “refocused to showcase transformative travel, which encourages travellers to find authentic and mindful moments during their journeys,” Lonely Planet said.

“Travel is a much more considerate exercise in 2021 than it has been ever before,” Lonely Planet CEO Luis Cabrera said. “Best in Travel 2021 champions people, places and organisations that are making travel a force for good, all the more essential in a year when COVID-19 has disrupted and deprioritised travel. Best in Travel 2021 reflects how travel contributes to sustainability, community and inclusivity and showcases how we can best explore the world responsibly.”