“Investing today for the needs of tomorrow” is a motto of Jef Moon, a Belgian businessman. As NGOs are slowing fading out, he believes that the private sector needs to take extra tasks in creating more capital for society.
He promised himself to strictly follow this maxim when he founded Knai Bang Chatt, a unique barefoot luxury resort in the coastal province of Kep in 2006.
Ten years after its creation, Knai Bang Chatt became the first resort in Cambodia to be internationally certified gold through the Green Growth 2050 initiative ( GG2050). It’s thanks to the company’s sustainable operations and best practices, sustainability management, pollution reduction and protection of bio-diversity.
In March this year, GG2050 completed their third annual audit, which resulted in Knai Bang Chatt rising to the highest level attainable under the standard, with an overall compliance level in excess of 91%. It means that that Knai Bang Chatt is now certified platinum.
“By working through [GG2050] an International Certified Sustainable Program, our whole team needs to work daily on controlling and measuring up to 450 sustainable key performance indicators,” Jef says, adding that ‘preserving nature for the next generation should be at the core of all tourism-related businesses’ Corporate Social Responsibility.
Yet, creating more natural capital is just one of the three pillars Knai Bang Chatt’s CSR programme has been built on. For years now, Jef has provided his staff with good salaries, accommodation, three meals a day, training and other benefits at Knai Bang Chatt, even during the low tourist season, to increase the social capital in the area.
Meanwhile, to contribute to increasing human capital, the Hand in Hand programme, established by the resort, has invested nearly $1 million to improve education, health, and livelihood opportunities for over 600 families in the neighbouring village of Chamcar Bei, some 15 kilometers from Kep.
“CSR ideas began developing when I first came to Cambodia in 2003 searching for new life, when I was confronted with beautiful people living in extreme poverty,” Jef says. “At that time I knew that I could only find happiness if I would reach out to people in need.”
While the programmes are meant for the guests to ease, relax and rejuvenate, their stays are making positive impacts. At Knai Bang Chatt, Jef notes, visitors never book a room, but they book an unqiue private experience.
“I am not an institution, but what we offer at Knai Bang Chatt is a lifestyle where we promote “guilt-free travel” and we do this by operating with integrity and by reaching out,” he says.