Now Reading: Starting a Social Enterprise in Cambodia

Change for the Better: ACNT Student Starts Social Enterprise Making a Difference to Communities & Health In Cambodia

Starting a Social Enterprise in Cambodia

Valentina Algeri is a proud Australasian College of Natural Therapies (ACNT) alumni and founder of Statera Collective, a boutique social enterprise offering values-based businesses and their teams accessible health and wellness programs and responsible volunteering opportunities abroad.

Supported by the skills she has learned through studying her Diploma of Health Science at ACNT, Valentina implements methods which encourage individuals and groups to develop self-awareness, social awareness, manage stress in challenging situations and build resilience through practical tools to check in on their body and mindset. ACNT is part of the Torrens University network of colleges, offering innovative and hands-on courses in health science, nutrition, naturopathy and western herbal medicine that are recognised and valued by industry.

Passionate about making a difference, Statera Collective’s ‘Changemaker Trips’ in Cambodia and Laos provide the opportunity to participate in a week-long sustainable volunteering project, with yoga, mindfulness and wellness activities throughout the program. Volunteering projects can include Housebuilding with Volunteer Building Cambodia and Treak Community Centre, and Statera partners with like-minded NGOs who do the right thing, focus on child protection and sustainability, and support the community with teaching English, daily meditation, yoga classes and local cultural trips.

While Valentina’s present career is about wellness and community, it has not always been this way. Join us as we discover how she got to where she is today.

Tell us about yourself Valentina. What inspires you?

I am deeply passionate about giving back to global communities in ways which create opportunities for individuals to thrive without creating dependencies. That’s why I decided to start the Statera Collective – a social organization committed to improving lives and communities. For example, when we are in Cambodia we bring our volunteers to Vibe Café who have set up Good Vibes Foundation which strives to provide 10 000 school breakfasts to local kids. We do business with suppliers who are providing benefits back to the communities they operate in. As a social enterprise we also take it upon ourselves to educate our volunteers about child protection issues and introduce practical ways they can travel responsibly.

I am also inspired by people who take risks, pursue study and knowledge and go out on a limb to serve others. I believe we all have the most powerful ability to make a huge difference to this planet using the resources we already have access to. This is exactly what I’ve tried to do in my own personal journey through life.

Change for the Better: ACNT Student Starts Social Enterprise Making a Difference to Communities & Health In Cambodia

Have you always dreamed of a career in Health? What made you change your journey?

When I was younger, I dreamed of walking down a busy CBD street, dressed in a suit and holding a compendium. My idea of a dream career looks very different today so the lesson behind this is sometimes you need to give yourself permission to change your mind and then pursue that goal ruthlessly. Sometimes we don’t know exactly what our dream career will be and that’s okay!

I originally studied a double degree in Commerce and Social Sciences which led me to a 10 year corporate career in banking, marketing, sales and finance, working for reputable brands such as St George Bank, ANZ Bank, and HSBC. I worked across sales and project management roles for 8 years always having an interest in natural health, and developed a love for yoga during this time.

I loved it so much that I quit my bank job and undertook yoga teacher training. Then my fiancé and I travelled around the world for 9 months; it had always been our dream. When we returned from our travels, I started Statera Collective! After volunteering in Cambodia back in 2015, I realised there was a need for education around responsible ways to volunteer in developing societies overseas. I also realized many people wanted to volunteer but had no idea where to start or know which NGOs were authentic. I wanted to enable good people to good projects and enable them to volunteer comfortably, affordably and easily.

What made you decide to study the Diploma of Health Science?

I had always wanted to study health but I was under the impression that there were only mainstream biomedical courses on offer. The ACNT approach to health and balance were what I was looking for. When I started doing my research whilst still working in banking, I discovered the Diploma of Health Science and it fulfilled everything I wanted in a course. It was flexible, had the option of studying in person and online and the teaching staff were really balanced in their approach to health. I did look around at other courses but ACNT enrolments team stood out and were the most friendliest with any questions I had.

I was a bit apprehensive going back to study at 29 years old but the staff and lecturers have been brilliant and so supportive. I have loved every unit I have studied and look forward to continuing my studies into the future.

Valentina Algeri is a proud Australasian College of Natural Therapies

What was studying at ACNT like?

I really love the flipped classroom learning style as it gives me as the student a level of ownership and accountability with my study. I found it enables me to understand concepts quicker and there are a few points of review in class and on blackboard. I feel very organised and prepared for my classes following this learning style.

Interestingly, your company’s name, Stratera, means “balance” in latin.  How do you find balance with your current routine?

I teach yoga and also attend classes as a student. I love Sri Lankan food as my fiance’s Grandma taught me some authentic recipes. They incorporate healthy ingredients such as lentils, mung dhal, therapeutic spices such as turmeric and whole cumin that are nourishing for your body.

What advice do you have for prospective students looking into a career change?

My idea of a dream career looks very different today so the lesson behind this is, sometimes you need to give yourself permission to change your mind, and then pursue that goal, ruthlessly.  During your study, opportunities will be presented that we didn’t even know existed, so it is important to always stay open.

If you’re thinking about studying natural therapies or becoming a clinical practitioner, and you’re not quite sure you want to commit to a 3-4 year degree, the Diploma of Health Science is a great option. It’s a 1 year diploma that gives you a qualification at the end, and it’s a flexible course with many online options to study. It’s also the best pathway into ACNT’s clinical health science degrees, as it gives one full year of credit towards the Naturopathy, Nutritional Medicine and Western Herbal Medicine courses (just select the right subjects!). This means you can choose to continue directly on with your studies and enter the 2nd year of the Bachelor of Health Science degree you like. Perfect for dipping the toe in!

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