July 14, 2006

Adventist News

IDAHO: GemState Business Students
Win National Recognition


capStarting an international company may seem like an impossible task, but not to a group of GemStateAcademy business students in Caldwell who spent time this year in Cambodia doing just that.
“Launching our company, Khmer Krafts, LLC, was a big task but very exciting,” said senior academy student Cinthya Hererra. “It was amazing to interact in another culture and set up a business that will give jobs to poor village women who may otherwise be faced with severe poverty or even prostitution.”
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Gem State Academy students (from left) Ariel Candies, Cinthya Hererra, and Anna Webberley, together with Business Club sponsor Debra McCarver, receive the first-runner-up trophy. [Courtesy of Gem State Acacemy]Photo: ANN/Reger Smith

Khmer Krafts makes and sells Cambodian products such as purses, pillow covers, Bible covers, pencil cases, and clothing in Cambodia, the United States, and several other regions throughout the world.

“Our inspiration for the project came when we met Setan Lee, a survivor of the killing fields,* and heard his story,” said Katie Garner, Business Club president. “We were especially interested in [learning about] the trade school he has set up in Cambodia that teaches sewing and computer skills to Cambodian women.”
When the group learned that a couple from Baker City, Oregon, Bob and Kay Petrick, had a vision to develop a company that would provide employment for trade school graduates while funneling 50 percent of the profits back to support the trade school, they wanted to help.
So they started a project that has taken the team to Cambodia and back, as well as to a national competition held by Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE) in Brooklyn, New York. On May 26 they competed with several other high schools and came home as first runner-up for the United States.
“This is our first year [to participate in the competition],” said Business Club sponsor and founder Debra McCarver, “and for a small school from Idaho this is a huge accomplishment.”
The group raised more than $17,000 in eight months to fund their trip, start up Khmer Krafts, and help fund several other humanitarian projects.
While in Cambodia, the students were involved in several activities, including working with Khmer Krafts to write a business plan, inventory products, structure pricing, set up accounting systems, and take photos for Web site sales; providing school supplies for more than 1,700 Cambodian elementary students; distributing more than 10 tons of rice to feed hungry Cambodian villagers; and participating in the dedication of an orphanage.
“It was amazing to watch the students stretch their comfort zones and their skills on these projects,” said McCarver. “More than just a business project, Cambodia has given all of us the desire to serve and help those around us.” 

For more information, go to www.gemstate.org 

                                                  ---Gem State Academy Marketing and Recruitment Department/AR.
*To read about the killing fields, click here