BeeKeeper Parade

BeeKeeper Parade: Using business to inspire change

Phnom Penh, CambodiaMelbourne, Australie
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

BeeKeeper Parade uses discarded fabric and textile waste headed for Cambodian landfill and transform them into sustainable backpacks. We hold talks at schools in Australia, connecting their consumer spending decisions with the makers and show the devastating impact this may have on our environment.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if every single school in Australia purchased their school bags from ethically made and sustainable suppliers.
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

We live in a world where we discard new fabrics or wear clothing once or twice before throwing away. Over 13M tons of textile waste is dumped every year in the US alone. Often ending up in countries like Cambodia, in landfill 400 times more toxic than raw sewerage. There are 9389 schools across Australia. Of the 10 schools we spoke to, not one could explain the impact their purchasing decision had on the environment or who made their school bags.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We will approach this problem in two ways: 1) Disturb the manufacturing landscape in Cambodia by creating a production house that will set the standard for ethical and transparent production. Document our work and processes, share our knowledge, and pave the way for other organisations to replicate within their own practices. We tackle the tons of textile waste heading for Cambodia's landfill directly, by sourcing only discarded fabrics and clothing and upcycle them into durable backpacks. 2) We change consumer behaviour by targeting educational institutions, give talks and raise awareness about conscious consumerism and offer real actions to make a difference. We convince every school to purchase sustainable, ethically made backpacks.


RMIT Social Impact Investment Award, RMIT Seeds Fellowship Award
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Mount View Primary School in Melbourne, wanted to expose their students to world issues, broadly about our ability to change the world and specifically about our responsibilities as a conscious consumer. Our talk, helped the students and teachers understand the direct links between their purchasing choices in Australia and the negative impact it may have across the world. This ignited inspired comments on their school blog with many children vowing to take action by purchasing backpacks as a first step. This inspired concrete changes in the school purchasing decisions as well. We will pitch, as an alternative backpack supplier this year. Another school, St Kilda Primary, has already made an order of 150 backpacks, even before our talk.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We have developed a production house in Phnom Penh. Creating meaningful and fairly paid jobs for 3 women and 4 men. Our current capacity is 150 backpacks per month. We have stopped app. 600kg of textile waste from hitting landfill. We will have workshops with our team to describe quality employment and formulate plans to achieve this description. We aim to create 5-10 more jobs and reduce landfill waste by up to 3 tons in the next 2yrs. We have started school talks at RMIT University and MVPS. We have 4 more talks scheduled. This gives us direct contact with 1500 individuals. We have changed the purchasing behaviour of 1 school already. We have been invited to speak at a Teachers Conference in March 2016. Giving us the ears of every single principal in Australia. In 2yrs we aim to talk at 100 schools reaching 30,000 individuals and changing the purchasing behaviour at 80% of the schools

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

We will continue to form strategic partnerships with schools, educational institutions and approach government. We will develop a training program so that volunteers and students may present on our behalf. Our story has been published in The Age, The Huffington Post and aired on national Australian TV. We will continue to engage the media to powerfully share our story with the wider international community. In 5yrs, we aim to have presented at 500 schools, directly reaching 150,000 individuals and helping convince 400 schools change their purchasing decisions across 3 continents. We estimate

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We initially received grants from RMIT University and generated revenue via a crowd funding campaign. Since launching in March 2015, we have generated enough sales of our products to cover costs and roll profits back into the business to grow. In August we were offered space in Melbourne Central Shopping Complex. We generated $13,000 in 7days. We estimate that if we had this space for 1yr, this pop-up shop could generate up to $500k in revenue.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

In the Cambodian space there are several businesses addressing the issue of textile and fashion waste. Tonle Design (focuses on zero waste) and Dorsu (focuses on creating fairer working conditions and space). While all of us work with discarded and end-of-roll fabrics and remnant materials, only Beekeeper Parade specifically uses discarded shirts and upcycle them into durable products. We also, are the only one actively targeting schools as a critical space to exercise maximum influence, asking schools to demonstrate positive change by example and change their purchasing decisions.

Founding Story

Koky was born in prison during Cambodia’s civil war in the 70s, escaping with his family when he was 3 years old. After living in Australia for most of his life, Koky felt it was time to go back and help rebuild his country. With the help of Sophia Saly BabyTree Projects was created giving children vital access to quality education. For Koky, rebuilding his homeland is as much about creating a sustainable planet as it is about quality education. Koky’s sister and best friend Sophia Saly passed away from cancer in 2012. In her will Sophia left Koky her car and requested that he used the proceeds to create a business that would inspire change - that’s how BeeKeeper Parade was born.


Koky Saly is the founder and Chief Keeper. Over the past decade Koky has dedicated his life to bringing quality education to the doorsteps of children living in rural Cambodia. Creating the Non-Profit and local Cambodian NGO called BabyTree Projects (BTP) in 2007. In 2014, Koky completed his Masters in International development and overseas the delivery of programs and projects in the five communities BTP works in. Our major projects include the English Program and partnering with Engineers Without Borders Australia to develop the Solar Project. Over the past 3 years, Koky has worked on Beekeeper Parade, successfully pitching for grants, running a crowd funding campaign raising over $27,000 and developing our products and our production team in Cambodia. His main tasks include problem solving, finding a way, keeping promises and steering our spaceship in a beautiful direction. Anthony Guardabascio is Brand keeper. Anthony is a successful graphic designer running his own successful business for many years in Melbourne. He creates many of our graphics, videos, content and brand direction. His main task is to make sure we stay on brand. Rob Wise is our statistics and analysts. Rob has a degree in International Business, Banking and Finance from Monash University. Rob works on the back-end of our website and is charged with growing our online business. With incredible research combined with analysing our statistics and data, he helps inform our decisions specifically related to our budget on marketing Beekeeper Parade as best we can, with minimal spend.
Value Chain: Where does your work fit into the apparel value chain? [check all that apply]

Manufacturing, Consumption.

Your Role: What is your relationship to the apparel industry? [check all that apply]

Advocate/Organizer, Brand Representative, Consumer, Designer, Factory Owner, Supplier - contractor.

Target Population: What stakeholder groups do you engage or empower in your work? [check all that apply]

Children, Consumers, Factory Workers, Factory Owners, Youth.

● Intervention Focus: What are you trying to achieve / influence? [check all that apply]

Access to Essential Services (i.e. Healthcare and Education), Conscious Consumerism, Environmentally Sustainable Practices, Physical Working Conditions.

Lever for Change: Select up to 3 ways your work is helping to transform the industry.

Advocacy, Standards, Training.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

A Job is Not Enough: Low-Income Workers Cannot Secure Long-Term Well-Being, Consumers Aren't Motivated to Care: Neither Compelling Reasons Nor Easy Means to Change Consumption Habits, Sustainability is Not Yet in the DNA: Fast Fashion’s Current Model Disincentivizes Value-Driven Economies.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Unite More than Voice: Tap into Community Capital and Collective Resources, Activate Local Know-how for Driving Solutions: Build Opportunities for Workers to Become Leaders, Transform the Chain into a Web: Link Unlikely Sectors that Open New Pathways to Sustainability.

Innovation Inspiration: When you first conceived of your project, did you think of it as applicable to the apparel industry?


If you answered "no" to the previous question, which industry was your project originally aimed at transforming?

● Replicating in the Apparel Industry: If your project didn't initially target the apparel industry, how are you specifically tailoring it to do so now?
Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?

Every time we talk at a school our ability to inspire people is evidenced in emails & social media posts.

● Tell us about the partnerships that enhance your approach. How have you collaborated with others in the industry to increase your impact?

Collaborating with Melbourne Central connected us with mainstream consumers opening many discussion about sustainability.