Tiny Toones Cambodia

Tiny Toones Cambodia

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Tiny Toones serves as a safe haven for marginalized youth to channel their energy and creativity into the arts and education,empower them to build self-confidence,increase their skills and capacity for employment and feel supported pursuing their dreams.Businesses, schools and other NGOs contract our teaching and performance services,whereby all income is split between Tiny Toones and the artists.

About You
Tiny Toones Cambodia
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Section 1: About You
First Name


Last Name



, PP

Section 2: About Your Organization
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?


Organization Name

Tiny Toones Cambodia

Organization Phone
Organization Address

House #4, Street 460, Psar Toul Tom Pong

Organization Country

, PP

How long has this organization been operating?

1‐5 years

Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, PP

What makes your innovation unique?

The culture of Hip-Hop and its various art forms (break-dancing, rapping, beat making,composing and recording music and DJ'ing)are used as a vehicle to reach marginalized youth and offer them an alternative to street related activities such as drugs,gang violence,loitering and sexual labour.

Our creative program provides opportunities for them to nurture their creativity, develop artistic talents, access counselling and mentoring, gain life skills, become socially active and responsible citizens and most importantly, provides a pathway to education simultaneously. The most talented dancers and musicians are offered a source of income through contract performances and teaching jobs in the community and abroad.

The Education Program provides underprivileged youth with access to quality non-formal education, which for some participants serves as their sole access to education. Daily classes allow youth to develop their English, Khmer, computer literacy, numeracy and communication skills in between learning Hip-Hop arts.

There are approximately 173 other youth organizations in Cambodia that have been established for the purpose of improving the lives of Cambodian youth. While there are several contemporary arts programs currently existing in other NGO’s and international schools, none of these programs offer training in break-dancing, rapping, Hip-Hop music production or DJ’ing as extensively as Tiny Toones.

Additionally, Tiny Toones is the only NGO in Cambodia, founded and successfully managed by a Cambodian deportee from the USA (KK) who brings with him the unique insights into both American Hip-Hop and gang culture and Khmer family values. KK is an outstanding mentor and has encouraged most of the Tiny Toones youth to avoid street related activities and instead develop goals for their future. His personal relationship with the youth is a valuable asset that sets the organization apart and continues to attract hundreds of youth to the centre daily.

Do you have a patent for this idea?

Tell us about the social impact of your innovation. Please include both numbers and stories as evidence of this impact

From 9 kids in a living room in 2005,to approximately 4000 youth to date who have participated in our programs over the past few years; Tiny Toones is creating impact with centres operating in 6 locations across Phnom Penh and a Harm Reduction team conducting daily outreach on drug and HIV education in approximately 15 severely impoverished communities.

In a survey conducted in Nov 2009 with almost 1/3 of our participants,we found that:
*49% are currently enrolled in our creative program gaining skills in breakdancing, rapping, DJing, and visual arts. They are also building self confidence and motivation,gaining life skills and discipline
*70% feel they have improved in their dancing, music and art skills since the previous year
*64% consider themselves as a talented dancer, musician or artist
*83% feel they are more confident than previous year
*76% feel they can express themselves more than previous year

*92% are currently enrolled in our education program gaining literacy, numeracy and communication skills
*62% currently aspire to attend University while only 31% did prior to attending Tiny Toones
*91% consider themselves as a clever student
*88% feel they can communicate better than last year
*84% feel motivated to attend school

*81% feel that they are now a positive member of society
*83% feel motivated to pursue their dreams
*88% feel they have grown mentally or emotionally from the support of Tiny Toones
*94% feel that Tiny Toones have made a difference in their lives

In Dec 2009, there was a 70% pass rate in English classes, 60% pass rate in Khmer literacy and mathematics classes and a total of 168 students graduated from basic computer training in Microsoft Office.The recent survey found that since graduating from a computer course, 27% of students have been able to find a job using their computer skills,26% have been able to use the computer to complete school assignments and 21% have been able to teach someone else how to use the computer.The Harm Reduction team gave presentations and distributed 589 health packets including condoms and hygiene supplies throughout various communities.

One participant whose life has been changed significantly since attending Tiny Toones is 12 year old- Yahn. Prior to Tiny Toones, Yahn spent 8 hours a day shining shoes at the local market to provide income for his Grandmother and younger sister.3 years ago, Yahn found Tiny Toones and today lives at the centre along with 12 others. He attends English, Khmer and breakdancing classes. As an incredibly talented dancer for his age, Yahn is often selected to perform throughout Cambodia, representing Tiny Toones and is able to keep a portion of this income to help support himself and his family.

Problem: Describe the primary problem(s) that your innovation is addressing

Cambodia has been severely setback from over 2 decades of bombings,civil war,and genocide that killed nearly 1/3 of the population and eradicated the educated class,public education system and social services.Today,it is among the poorest countries in the region,its current population among the youngest in the world with some 62% under 24 years of age.Of these young people,over 20,000 are living and/or working on the streets of its capital Phnom Penh alone.Several major issues are facing these vulnerable youth including poverty, poor and low access to education, and risk of HIV/AIDS infection.

Poverty is especially pervasive in rural areas and among children.As parents become ill,many children and youth are expected to migrate to urban cities and work in low paying and laborious jobs typically on the streets to supplement their family’s income.Subsequently,children become susceptible to a range of problems including sexual abuse,drugs and substance abuse,exploitation,criminal behaviour and health difficulties.

In the school year 2007-2008, the overall net primary enrolment rate was 93%, equally distributed by gender.However challenges remain in addressing the persistently high drop-out rate(only 53% of students reached the final year of primary school,Grade 6),due to late entry into primary school,high repetition rates,household duties,internal migration,and child participation in economic activities.Less than 30% of secondary school-aged youth are attending secondary school while 40% are attending primary school only.Many teachers are under-qualified and low pay often forces them to seek additional employment,reducing the quality of their teaching.Additionally,the direct and indirect costs of public education prevent many families from sending their children to school.Instead,these children spend most of their time unsupervised either loitering or working to earn an income.In 2008, UNICEF reported 205,000 children of primary school age out of school.

Actions: Describe the steps that you are taking to make your innovation a success. Include a description of the business model. What might prevent that success?

Tiny Toones has grown rapidly over the last few years, expanding from just breakdancing to 7 different creative and educational disciplines with approximately 30 staff and volunteers. Tiny Toones is transitioning from a grassroots organisation into a self- sustaining social enterprise. We are focused on growing our current commercial activities and building capacity to establish further businesses to support our NGO rather than depending solely on donor support.

In 2010, we are focusing on organisational development and capacity- building. This includes:
1.Ensuring policies and standard operating procedures are in place to guide financial and strategic management, human resources, donor communication, health and safety, and administration
2.Strengthening the financial and strategic management, monitoring and accountability systems to best position the organization to meet the goals and achieve our vision
3.Recruiting new administration staff to build an office team that can sufficiently carry out all administrative functions effectively
4.Ongoing strengthening of the education and creative programs, ensuring they meet the needs of the most vulnerable youth
5.Maintaining our reputation as Cambodia's première Hip-Hop talent and increasing the income from local and international performances, theatre shows, TV commercials, workshops and classes

With the extraordinary talent nurtured within our creative program, Tiny Toones aims to establish a commercial dance studio within the next 2 years, specializing in Hip-Hop dance tuition for middle- upper class Cambodian youth/ young professionals. The studio will employ graduates of our creative program and will ensure these young dancers are not exploited and their right to participate in education is protected. All profits from the studio will be invested into the Tiny Toones NGO to help sustain and expand its programs.

Within the next 2 years, we also aim to implement a vocational training program to enhance employment opportunities for the youth by empowering them with vocational skills and work experience opportunities. Equipping participants with vocational skills such as motorcycle repairing, cooking, sewing, hairdressing, graphic design, and business management will enable them to secure a livelihood beyond Tiny Toones as well as build self-confidence and motivation in their daily lives. Tiny Toones will establish partnerships with local businesses to assist with training and sourcing employment opportunities.

Other activities in 2011- 2012 include:
Implementing a formal counselling, referral service and peer mentor program
Offer scholarships
Increase transportation capacity and number of pick up locations
Establish a new outreach centre in a community most in need

Results: Describe the expected results of these actions over the next three years. Please address each year separately, if possible

Implementation of our 2010 planned activities will result in:
*greater organisational capacity to expand
*greater management capacity to strengthen our administrative functions
*programs to have a greater impact on our target beneficiaries

Implementation of our 2011-2012 planned activities will result in:
*All at-risk youth attending the centre to no longer engage in harmful practices such as sex work, drug use or gang involvement as a result of receiving counselling, mentoring, referral service or attending the centre
*the number of participants transported to the centre to participate in programs and retention rates to increase
*new outreach centre reaches out to a community of youth not yet served
*Khmer classes exceeding the standards of public schools and Tiny Toones to be recognized by the Ministry of Education as a formal education provider
*80% of our students to have received Khmer education equivalent to the Grade 1 or 2 national curriculum
*80% of students to have gained or improved their literacy and communication skills in English
*20% to have received employment where they utilize their computer skills gained at the centre
*50% of graduates of our education program to enrol in higher education and to be able to offer scholarships to those in financial hardship
*700 youth each month in each of the outreach communities are educated about HIV/ AIDs, drug prevention, hygiene, how to handle peer pressure and employ the use of condoms as well as 30% having made behavioural changes
*As a result of the vocational training program, commercial dance studio and other commercial activities, an increasing number of our participants are able to secure meaningful employment which will relieve their lives and their families from poverty

How many people will your project serve annually?


What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

$50 - 100

Does your innovation seek to have an impact on public policy?


If your innovation seeks to impact public policy, how?


What stage is your Social Enterprise in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Does your organization have a board of directors or an advisory board?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with businesses?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your Social Enterprise

Partnerships with local businesses are critical for the success of both our commercial activities and vocational training program. Currently Tiny Toones has established relationships with several key businesses such banks and mobile phone service providers who often contract our performance services as entertainment for their corporate events. Other businesses have contracted our participants to feature in their TV commercials as Hip-Hop is seen as attractive and popular among majority of the youth.

Partnerships with local businesses such as mechanic shops, barber shops, restaurants, guesthouses and hotels will need to be established to assist with training our participants in vocational skills. Participants will be able to gain work experience and potentially secure employment after their apprenticeship.

Partnership with local schools is also important for our commercial business as several schools have already employed our participants as dance and music teachers. Other international schools and NGOs have contracted our participants for one off workshops and shows.

With these local school partnerships, Tiny Toones is able to assist our youth with enrolling them into a public school if they desire, or enrolling graduates of our program into higher education.

Partnership will other NGOs such as those who specialize in drug rehabilitation, mental health counselling or family planning are important for our referral services. In the case Tiny Toones cannot assist our youth with particular issues, we refer them to other organisations who are qualified to help.

Other partnerships we would like to establish in the future include a food donation program with hotel and restaurants and sponsorship for staff medical insurance with a medical insurance company.

We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model

Tiny Toones is currently financially supported by a combination of foundation grants, commercial activities, private donations, fundraising events, and our volunteer program.

In the future, Tiny Toones would like to establish an ongoing number of commercial businesses including developing our current commercial performance and teaching activities into it's own talent management company, our commercial Hip-Hop dance studio, and other viable business ideas such as a Hip-Hop themed guesthouse and restaurant (managed by graduates of our vocational training program), a Hip-Hop fashion and design business and a music production business commercializing the work of our youth. All these businesses will serve under the Tiny Toones vision, seeking to employ participants of our program where possible. Majority of the profits from these businesses will contribute to the running and expansion of the centre's programs and administration. Eventually, with the success of several businesses, Tiny Toones will no longer need to be dependent on sourcing grants and donations but become its own self-sustaining social enterprise.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

(See below)

Tell us about the person—the social innovator—behind this idea.

Tuy Sobil(KK)- founder of Tiny Toones, was born in the Thai refugee camps in 1977. His family fled the killing fields and persecution of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s and though they dreamed of rebuilding a new life in America, they struggled in poverty and lived in one of the most gang-infested neighbourhoods of Long Beach California. KK first started break dancing at the age of eight and was an extremely talented break-dancer until his life took a wrong turn during his later teenage years and he became involved with drugs, gangs and crime. After 8 years in-and-out of incarceration, he was deported to Cambodia in November 2004 leaving behind his son and family.

KK seized this opportunity to re-build his life and create the brightest possible future for himself. He quickly was able to find work as a health and drug harm reduction worker because he had enrolled in numerous workshops and classes in HIV education, substance abuse counselling, and peer-to-peer gang intervention throughout his imprisonment.

While KK was on youth outreach in Phnom Penh, word spread that he was a very talented break dancer when he was younger. 9 kids approached him to be their dance teacher, but he turned them down at first, since he had stopped dancing over ten years ago. He soon learned that the children lacked positive role models and were at-risk to choosing a life style of hardship. Fearing that they otherwise might repeat his own mistakes, he opened up his own home to serve as a youth centre with break dancing as the main activity. KK funded much of the early program out of his pocket, by continuing to work at his full time job; however, he spent the entirety of his evenings, weekends, and holidays mentoring his students. His old stories of growing up in the streets of Long Beach and personal lessons from his past mistakes give him a unique charisma that attracts thousands of at-risk youth and commands their immediate respect.

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