1[Photo credit: Mekong Blue]

 Mekong Blue is an income-generating silk-weaving project and a silk product brand of an NGO Stung Treng Women’s Development Center (TWDC). Launched in 2002 by a couple Kim and Nguo, this has a mission to assist in breaking the cycle of poverty and improve living standards by offering programs in literacy and health education, vocational training and employment.

2[Photo credit: Local Adventures]

TWDC used to be a Centre of Destniation, a hospice built by Kim and Nguon for people forced to prostitute and contracted with HIV/AIDS – during the civil conflict. Whilst this centre primarily assisted women with psychosocial and health support, this program did not contribute to re-positioning the women in Cambodian society. The co-founders recognized the importance of providing education and employment to reduce their vulnerability, by offering multi-dimensional assistance – not just health and socio-psychological support but economic empowerment for greater self-confidence.

Started with the literacy and employment trainings within the community for capacity development specifically targeted to women in Stung Treng.

Inspired by the asset-based approach, they started to use Cambodian silk for weaving products, which later turned into the brand, Mekong Blue that continues to be popular across the world today.

With greater support and income, currently there are also training projects for male construction workers, cafes, and a day care centre for children whose parents are working for TWDC.



[Photo credit: Mekong Blue]

Customer base
Online shops worldwide and retail/boutique stores (both regular and temporary booths) in Japan, Australia, the US, and Western/Eastern Europe through partnerships with various NGOs and retail stores.

Business model:
Whilst “business model” documents that detail supply chain are unavailable online, Mekong Blue as a project and a brand makes TWDC unique in its approach, as it is, in theory, only an “enterprise arm” to achieve the mission of TWDC. Supported by various UK, US, Canadian Foundations and individuals (not listed as investors due to the nature of the organisation being an NGO). Occasional crowd-funding initiatives are conducted.

Award and recognition:

  • 2004 and 2005: UNESCO “the Seal of Excellence” Award
  • 2014: Featured in NHK World Asia Insight “Weaving a Brighter Future”
  • 2015: Social Products Award by the Association for the Promotion of Social Products
  • Featured in many foreign news media platforms/magazines as “World-class silk” and “ethical wedding”



[Photo credit: Mekong Blue]

Social impact:

  • Under the Mekong Blue project, there are café, retail shops, weaving centre, and carpentry building, all of which employ 60 people approx. on a regular basis. This transforms their lives through more-than-doubled income. Their increased self-confidence and improved livelihoods are well-noted, and surplus revenues go to support provision of accommodation, meals, healthcare, and an on-site kindergarten for worker’s children.
  • From 2002 to 2010, there are 566 households in 5 districts – which include 496 women, 685 children, and 50 men that all had significant impact on their lives in the form of access to education, upskilling, employment, self-confidence, economic independence and so on.
  • While Cambodia’s garment industry has shrunk by 25 percent since the middle of 2008 because of the worldwide recession, Mekong Blue has been gradually growing its markets. Its modern twist in the indigenous, yellow silk material (much softer to the touch than Vietnamese/Chinese silks) makes the brand long-standing.

If you’re also interested in having a look at products, please visit their website here.


[ in Japanese ]