Our Story

  Friends ‘n’ Stuff is a social business run by Friends-International that enables parents across Southeast Asia to generate an income. These parents become part of our home-based production team – they are equipped with the skills to create the products you see at our stores!  Our shops are based on the Home Based Production and Training program that was created in 2005 in order to find a sustainable way to provide economic support to marginalized families. Funded by WTF since 2013, the project provides market-linked skills training and subsequent employment opportunities to parents of vulnerable children as a means of reducing incidences of child labor and ensuring that children receive a formal education.   

 Children from poor and marginalized families in Cambodia often have to drop out of school in order to earn money to help support themselves and their families. This not only puts children at risk in dangerous labor and working environments, but also greatly limits their future options as they will grow up lacking the necessary education and skills to secure decent and productive employment. By helping families achieve sustainable financial security through skills training and Home Based Production, the project reduces child labor and increases reintegration of marginalized children and youth into school and training. The project is improving the skills and income of vulnerable households in Phnom Penh through training and production of high quality home based products and access to national and international markets.

The majority of producers are mothers who have been unable to access employment, either because they have young children without care facilities available, a low level of education and skills, or because their physical and emotional conditions prevent them from engaging in formal employment. The lack of infrastructure (such as basic accommodation, sanitation, health services, education and sustainable employment) not only affects the caregivers’ day to day survival but threatens children with inadequate options for their future. Through the project, the producers start earning a regular income to support themselves and their families.

By working with the HBP program, the producers acquire the skills needed to become independent producers and produce products either at home or in a Training Centre. HBP participants are taught to make various products that range from jewelry made from paper beads - which most families start with as they are easy to learn and make - to accessories such as wallets made out of recycled materials. Other items include wallets and notebooks made from recycled rubber inner tubes and newspaper, and bags from local materials such as sarong. The families are trained to use a sewing machine which is installed in their homes.

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