This commitment seeks to create and support economic opportunities for survivors of sexual slavery through a cross-sector partnership between the Somaly Mam Foundation, Agir pour les Femmes en Situation Précaire (AFESIP) in Cambodia, and The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) and its associated brands, including Bumble and Bumble, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, and Clinique. Together, they will launch the Somaly Mam Beauty+ Salon.
The Salon will offer advanced skills training and job placement opportunities for young women who are survivors of sex slavery and preparing to reintegrate into the community. Trainees will be selected from AFESIP Cambodia's Siem Reap facility, where they have undergone a period of recovery, informal education, and basic salon skills and business training curriculum to help prepare them for running their own salon.
Beginning in August 2013, 10 classes of three trainees each will undergo a minimum three-month, four-stage training period, beginning in the AFESIP Center for Recovery and Skills Training and ending in the salon as an unpaid apprentice. In addition to offering beauty and hair care services to customers, trainees will also begin to practice small business skills. Upon graduation, women can choose between a startup kit to open their own salon, or AFESIP's job placement officers' assistance in existing salons. AFESIP's reintegration team will track progress monthly and then every three months for the first two years after graduation from the salon program, to help support development and stability.
ELC will financially support this new facility the first three years of operation. It will also provide training and in-kind resources. Scheduled to open in fall 2013, this social enterprise is strategically located in Siem Reap's emerging beauty district to attract both local business and clients from the growing tourism sector. The salon is geared toward self-sustainability by 2016 and will aim to operate from earned revenue by 2015. The project is aimed at establishing a successful model that can be replicated by other victim assistance programs in areas with high incidences of sex slavery.
Preparation and Salon Build-Out (June-September 2013)
- Recruit Salon Manager to manage the search for a suitable location and facility with guidance from the Project Team and the local AFESIP management (June 2013)
- Secure a salon facility and sign a lease (July 2013)
- Upgrade the facility, purchase salon equipment, and secure supplies (July 2013)
- Hire salon manager to oversee the location's build-out and development as well as the salon's amenities, inventory, and training schedule (July 2013)
- Members of The Estée Lauder Companies visit the site and train potential future salon employees in Siem Reap, Cambodia (July 2013)
- Hire salon's initial hairdresser to be responsible for consultations and salon services, salon upkeep and inventory, and developing lasting customer relationships (September 2013)
Project Launch and Ongoing Training
- First group of trainees begin the three-month training at the new salon (August 2013)
- Salon Grand Opening (October 2013)
- First group of trainees graduate and receive a business start-up kit with salon chair, signage, salon products, and possible first month(s) rent payment, enabling them to start their own businesses (November 2013)
- Second group of trainees begin training (November 2013)
- Second group graduates (February 2014)
- Training cycle continues, with each class being trained for three months: August-November, November-February, February-May, May-August, etc. (total of ten classes through 2016)
- Ongoing monitoring and tracking of trainee progress
According to the ILO, there are an estimated 4.5 million sex slaves in the world. In Cambodia, around 35% of Cambodia's approximately 40,000 prostitutes are under age 18. Historically, the genocide of the Khmer Rouge engendered a complete breakdown of civil society, and a focus on rapid de-urbanization and a return to an agricultural society left the infrastructure of Cambodia destroyed. The Cambodian people are still recovering in the aftermath of catastrophe, living without rule of law, without basic necessities, and in extreme poverty - the average Cambodian lives on $360 a year. Cambodian women are especially vulnerable to exploitation in the sex trade due to cultural norms that reinforce gender inequality and even violence. For women exiting the sex trade, skills training and economic opportunities are critical to building an independent, self-sustaining livelihood and preventing recidivism. Investing in women's employment through skills training, education, and entrepreneurship can enable a survivor to generate income to support herself and her family and stay far away from vulnerabilities that allow for exploitation and abuse in the sex trade. Basic education and economic empowerment can also boost a woman's position and value within the community, erasing stigmas against victims of sexual exploitation and encouraging gender equality. Through these investments, women will be able to take their place as empowered agents in Cambodia's rapidly growing economy.