City: Phnom Penh
Smateria is a social enterprise with two very clear objectives: creating beautiful, high-quality products using ‘bizarre’ materials, and employing Cambodian workers in a fair and sustainable way, giving priority to women and mothers.
When we decided to open the company, we had very clear in our minds which principles we wanted to follow – says Jennifer Morellato, co-founder of Smateria. Competitive salaries, good benefits and health insurance coverage are included in the basic package we offer to all our employees.
In addition to this we cover the expenses for various professional trainings and we are running a free of charge pre-school for all the children of our team. Recruitments are based on professional skills. Our doors are open to anyone, without any kind of discrimination. Our working environment is open and dynamic, professional growth is highly encouraged.
And everything started as usually - by chance…
I arrived in Cambodia in 2001 and I was supposed to stay here a couple of weeks and then I missed my flight back to Italy! When my first child was born in 2005 I joined a mothers/baby group in Phnom Penh and I met Elisa there. She was so full of energy and ideas! I She showed me some basic prototypes and I just loved them. I told Elisa that to me she seemed ready to go and do something very special. She looked at me and said: “I can’t do it alone”. I decided to join her and our adventure took off.
And they started, trying to take it easy at first as they were both mothers. But it was never really easy. They were developing really fast, much faster that they could imagine. In 2010 they opened next location in Siem Reap and then next one, and next…
To be honest, I hope we can stay this size. Or maybe just slightly bigger but not too much because if you go too big, you lose control. When we were a group of 20 people it was just like a big family. Now it is obviously different but we still have a very nice and dynamic working environment. With our four stores and 15 countries where we export our products to, we feel like we have achieved some very important goals!
And they do it caring for people in the first place.
We are growing all together. Nothing would have had been possible without our team, we have really amazing and expert people working with us. Our biggest success is to be surrounded by happy and proud workers.
Although Jennifer and Elisa changed the life of hundreds of people, they don’t really consider themselves superheroes.
We are not doing anything special.
We are just trying to be honest, fair and enjoy every single day of this incredible adventure.
What help them keep going, despite different challenges, is consistency and… joy.
Move, look for opportunities, enjoy what you are doing and believe in it. Find your way, doesn’t matter what it is, just enjoy it.
More about Smateria: smateria.com