Zoë Condliffe: Australian making ideas happen (in Cambodia)

Zoë Condliffe - founder of Mayibuye Cambodia

This week on Ideas Hoist, we’re profiling Zoë Condliffe, a 22-year-old social entrepreneur who was the 2011 winner of Anthill Magazine’s 30under30 competition for young entrepreneurs and was named one of The Age Melbourne Magazine’s Top 100 most influential, inspirational, provocative and creative people.

There are so many avenues for change right now, it really is an exciting time.”

Originally from Melbourne, Zoë is currently based in Takeo Province, Cambodia, where she started and now manages  Mayibuye Cambodia. She is an alumni of the School for Social Entrepreneurs and is currently studying visual art and human geography (international studies) at Monash University. Zoe has previously undertaken an internship with Youth Challenge International where she ran a literacy project in Guyana.

What are you working on right now? 

Mayibuye Cambodia! This year we launched Mayibuye Cambodia, which provides arts education to young people in rural areas of Cambodia. I manage the organisation and also teach most classes in dance, art and life skills. We provide creative education in Cambodia because the current education system relies on rote learning, and doesn’t encourage imagination or promote self-expression. You can read a profile of one of our students, talking about the impact our program has had on her.

At the moment we have turned our heads towards the future, focusing on ethical and sustainable solutions: I like to call it “future-proofing!”

Check out our theory behind what we do here: “The Importance of Creativity

How do you make ideas happen?

I have Harry Potter on my side!”

By being pro-active and highly motivated, which usually results in ideas becoming a reality. Once I start truly believing in an idea, I start finding links and ways to make it happen out in the real world. I surround myself with supportive people who believe in me and my idea, which always helps as well!

Plus, I have Harry Potter on my side!

What does your typical day look like?

I get up in the morning and go to market, because I live in a small rural village we buy our food fresh every day. I ride my bike around the village saying “hi” to all the neighbours. I spend the morning planning classes, checking emails and writing reports. I teach an English class and perhaps do some work at the local silk-weaving project. Then in the afternoon I ride my moto or bicycle out to one of the villages where we teach and run a couple of hours dance class in modern styles from around the world!

Watch a video of our students dancing Bollypop.

What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a non-profit in Cambodia?

Because we work in Cambodia I would say that the biggest challenge has been cultural. We had to adjust to doing things the Cambodian way, but then also knowing when we had to put our foot down and say “this time we have to do it our way.” I had to learn to be patient – things aren’t going to just happen straight away, and things here have a way of taking longer than you expect!

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

…we are good enough to make change!”

Ideas shouldn’t be secrets! They should be shared! Something I would love to see done in Cambodia is a Clean Up Cambodia campaign – I think with the right person it could be something great! So if someone wants to take that idea and run with it, I already have a three step plan!

Something I would love to give away for free is the idea that we are good enough to make change! We need to stop thinking “why me?” and start thinking “why not me?” You can see my blog here about this very topic.

What people/companies/organisations in Australia do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry? 

I think the School for Social Entrepreneurs in Australia is an amazing organisation. They believe in people, take on their ideas, and support change-makers to improve their communities. Their programs are incredibly high quality and well-run. They bring together inspiring people, strengthening the networks of social entrepreneurs and helping to create real change in society.

What about internationally?

Dragonfly Tours is a great example of an ethical social enterprise with a well-rounded do-good plan. They not only provide ethical tourism experiences, where participants can have a more meaningful experience in Cambodia, but 25% of the tour fee goes directly to an NGO. They are small and locally run too.

What role do you think creative people should play in affecting social change?

the old charity model is being replaced by social enterprises.”

I think they should stick with what they are passionate about. There are so many avenues for change right now; it really is an exciting time. You can turn almost anything into a social venture now – the old charity model is being replaced by social enterprises. So people should use their creativity to think innovatively about how they can help their community or strengthen others through the gift of creativity.

What three websites you would recommend to our readers?

Name three Australians we should follow on Twitter? 

Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea?

There are many opportunities to get involved! We are always looking for volunteers to come and do placements with us in Cambodia for minimum one month.

We have a three-step funding plan at the moment to Future-Proof our org:

  1. Sponsor a staff member ($20 per month)
  2. Help by Holidaying – join our ethical 2-week tours through Cambodia, run by the fantastic Dragonfly Tours – Ethical Inspired Travel – where 25% of fee goes directly to Mayibuye Cambodia.
  3. Buy a tile with your name painted on it by one of our students for $50 to help us raise money for our arts centre, to be built in January.

Please email me (z.condliffe[at]mayibuyesouthafrica.org)  if you are interested in helping.

Our readers are smart, creative, talented and good looking. Here’s your chance to ask them anything.

How do I get more followers on twitter (@zoe285)? And also, what’s YOUR idea?

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

In Melbourne I would have to say Lentil as Anything at the Convent. Such a beautiful setting and such a beautiful idea behind it all – pay what you feel! Second would be KinFolk Café.

We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?

Handmade cards by our kids just in time for Christmas.

Make sure you sign-up to join our amazing community for Australians making ideas happen.

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