Café and bookshop in Cambodia co-founded by Cambridge Judge student donates money and books to good causes, aiming to scale up ethical tourism.
A café and bookshop set up in Cambodia by a Cambridge Judge student is donating one hundred per cent of its profits to good local causes in one of Cambodia’s poorest provinces, and aims to expand the concept of ethical tourism around the world.
New Leaf Book Café was co-founded by Georgina Hemmingway, who enrolled in the Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship in 2014 and is currently president of the Women’s Leadership Initiative at Cambridge Judge. The café in the city of Siem Reap opened in July 2013, and within two months had made its first cash and book donations.
“The idea is to harness the financial power of tourism for the wider benefit of the host community. Tourists will enjoy a fantastic, authentic, local experience safe in the knowledge that their money will be used to create a positive social impact,” says Georgina, who co-founded the café with Ian Croft after they met while volunteering in Siem Reap province in Cambodia.
The concept aims to create jobs, support the local economy, and raise funds for NGOs and other projects focused on education in the province.
The café’s menu includes traditional Khmer dishes as well as international recipes, and it seeks to source ingredients from local social enterprises where possible. The bookshop includes more than 3,000 new and second-hand titles, mostly donated by supporters from around the world, and there is also an event space for meetings and exhibits.
Georgina was volunteering at a Cambodian Children’s Home in Siem Reap when she realised that while the city attracted many tourists from abroad, there was plenty of need among the local population. In its first year, New Leaf Book Café raised more than $25,000 to be donated, and also donated more than 1,000 books to rural schools in Cambodia.
The New Leaf model is now being supported by Social Incubator East, a collaboration between Cambridge Judge Business School and the charity Allia. Ian Croft is now managing the café, and Georgina is working on plans aimed at building up an ethical tourism brand that could be expanded to other developing countries around the world.
“There is great potential for building an ethical cafe brand aimed at tourism,” says Georgina. “Tourism is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world, as people are travelling in greater numbers and to more diverse countries than ever before, many of them developing countries. Our brand will create an easy and enjoyable way to connect to that local community and to ensure that your visit leaves a positive footprint.”