Cambodia does not use rubbish incineration – so there are some people who make a living rummaging through the rubbish dump on the edge of Siem Reap’s suburbs. In the spring of 2012, Kumae’s founder, Mr. Yamase, came to Cambodia to volunteer, having recently entered university. He wanted to help the people who rummaged. 1 year later, against the will of his parents, he quit university and returned to Cambodia. He decided, within a year, to find a way to employ those people who were rummaging through rubbish. He was introduced to banana fiber, and decided to start manufacturing eco-friendly paper from it.
He started by employing 2 people from the rubbish site, and produced and sold postcards as a test run, in 2014. He then developed water resistant banana paper for making bags and wallets in 2016 (branded as “Ashi”). With increasing recognition and sales, the number of employees has gone up to 9. This young 24-year old’s endeavor has only just begun.