For every booking, Geckos will be making a contribution on your behalf to our social enterprise partner Friends-International, to give back to the communities and regions we travel to.

This contribution goes towards vocational training programs which help end the cycle of poverty by reintegrating marginalized youth into society as productive, skilled and empowered citizens. 100% of students who finish their training with Friends secure jobs.

Why vocational training?

As a company catering to young travellers, we wanted to show our support for Friends’ fantastic work with their vocational training for marginalized young people. Vocational training is a great opportunity to reintegrate marginalized youth into society as productive, skilled and empowered citizens. It provides flexibility and access to new skills to young people who have generally never been a part of a structured educated system. Skills-training is supplemented by counseling, literacy/numeracy education, life-skills education and job-readiness training to provide the full scope of skills required for employment. Friends also links youth to a full range of support services such as basic medical care, referrals to hospital, nutritious meals and job-placement after graduation, and will even assist those motivated to start their own businesses.

Mechanic training, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

What sort of Vocational training programs will Geckos be contributing to?

Sustainable programs

To ensure students receive the highest-quality education, Friends operates a number of its skills-training workshops via a social business model. This provides students with practical hands-on experience serving real customers (including Geckos travellers on some itineraries), meaning graduates are highly-employable and trainings are market- aligned. Most notable among the social businesses are Friends’ training restaurants operated under the brand TREE (Training Restaurants for Employment and Entrepreneurship), which have received international acclaim. Three TREE restaurants are operational in Cambodia (as well as two in Lao PDR, one in Myanmar, one in Ethiopia, and one scheduled to open in Thailand).

The social business framework also provides the highest level of sustainability for social programming, decreasing dependence on donors.

Friends-International: Building Futures

Friends-International (Friends) is an award-winning social enterprise that saves lives and builds futures of the most marginalized children, youth, families and communities in South East Asia and around the world. It works to create a future where all children are safe from all forms of abuse, and become functional, productive citizens who contribute to a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable world. Friends does this by connecting vulnerable beneficiaries to a holistic range of programming, including: community/street outreach, family/school reintegration, vocational training, drug prevention/treatment, transitional safe-housing and income-generation (employment, micro-enterprise and home-based production).

Learn more about Friends