A newly open café in downtown Phnom Penh is empowering the country’s often marginalized deaf and mute community.
Socials, located inside PPCBank on Preah Monivong Boulevard, is one of the only businesses in Cambodia specifically dedicated on hiring members of deaf community; of its seven employees, three are deaf. The cafe’s founder, Swapnil Deshmukh, intend to continue the same business operation for his coffee shop expansion around the city and country.
Most of the employees hired by Socials Coffee and Humanity are graduates from the Deaf Development Programme (DDP), a two-year nonprofit training programme that teaches deaf people aged 15 and older how to sign before placing them in jobs provided by their partners in the private sector.
The partnership forged between the coffee shop and PPCBank – the first of its kind – will allow Socials to expand to those bank branches where it is likely to attract customers. Deshmukh added that the chain is looking to partner with other businesses in Cambodia, including coworking spaces, to develop the brand.
Besides its goals, Socials also provides unusual beverages inspired by Deshmukh’s experiences abroad. The most popular drinks are Iced Coconut Latte, Avocado Espresso and Iced Hazelnut Latte.