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Srey Kumneth / Khmer Times Share:
Socials Coffee provides everyone a common venue to work, interact and grow. GT2/Srey Kumneth

Dozens of cafes – from small kiosks to glass-walled edifices – have sprouted around Phnom Penh for the past years. Why not? We all love the smell and taste of freshly brewed coffee beans. But one coffee shop in the city tries to deviate from being just a place that offers a cup of good coffee. ‘Socials Coffee’ is a venue that offers employment opportunities for people with physical disabilities, especially the deaf.

The café started as a pilot project in collaboration with PPCBank last year. And now that it has recently opened its third branch, Socials Coffee aims to continue giving out chances to people who are less likely to be employed by other establishments.

Located in Street 217, Norodom Boulevard, the third branch opens its doors to the deaf community in Cambodia.

“Customers will enjoy delicious drinks while banking with us. It’s flattering for us to know that we helped to get this project off the ground. We are inspired by Socials’ desire to make Cambodian society more inclusive; once Swapnil asked for wheelchair access, we happily revamped stairs to our headquarter facility to accommodate the request,” said Andrew Shin, president of PPCBank.

Mr Shin added, “We will continue to support Socials by further providing space in our branches, by running collaborative promotions and providing them catering opportunities with us. I hope other corporate businesses will follow suit.”

Socials Coffee is the first cafe in town to appoint a deaf person as a team leader, in charge of the entire operations of a branch. The shop was founded by former banker Swapnil Deshmukh. He has been obviously successful in the first phase in setting up a much-loved coffee brand that is run by deaf and speaking staff together.

Expressing his excitement at the launching, Mr Swapnil Deshmukh said, “Customers frequently visit Socials Coffee because they love our drinks and our service. As a result of their love for Socials Coffee, customers are able to support Cambodia’s deaf community.”

Mr Swapnil Deshmukh added that they now will embark on their second phase of the journey to collaborate with other cafes to help them train deaf staff, and to run cafes managed by deaf staff.

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