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Luyen and the Community Development Fund

Although Vietnam has made remarkable strides in development, the fight isn’t over yet. Poverty remains a stark reality for over 12 million people, while another 10 million hover just above the poverty line.

Luyen is a single mum from Soc Trang province, one of the poorest regions of Vietnam. Her son and her elderly mother rely on Luyen’s sole income.

When we first met her, Luyen was working as a wage labourer. Without land of her own, she farmed other people’s fields for up to 12 hours a day, earning just $3 for her work. Her family was barely scraping by.

“Sometimes, I couldn’t even afford to buy proper clothes for my son,” Luyen said. “During the rainy season, he was sick all the time.”

Luyen’s fortunes changed when she joined the Community Development Fund (CDF) and received a small loan to start her own business.

Community Development Fund

Families in rural communities often have difficulty accessing finance. Loan sharks take advantage of desperate people by charging extreme interest rates.

The CDF is a micro-finance program that offers small loans with just 1% interest. People can select a livelihood model and receive training to turn it into a small business, such as growing vegetables or raising livestock. This means they gain the skills and resources they need to lift themselves out of poverty for good.

Money in the piggy bank

With a loan of just $200 from the CDF, Luyen bought pigs – a smart business investment in Vietnam. Pigs provide meat to eat, piglets to sell, bio-gas to burn, and manure to fertilise crops.

In the first year, Luyen’s pig gave birth to nine piglets. From the sale of the piglets, Luyen was able to cover the cost of the animal feed, her loan repayments, and still had some left over to save for her family.

Luyen also learned how to harvest and dry water hyacinth, which grows freely in the nearby canals. She earns another $80 a month selling dried stalks to be made into baskets and furniture.

Investing in her family’s future

Today, Luyen no longer has to work in the field. She earns a better income working at home, where she can be with her family.

“Before, we weren’t living,” said Luyen. “We were barely surviving. Now, we have plans. Now, we can think about the future. My son will go to school. He’ll have a better life.”

This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

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Before, we weren’t living. We were barely surviving. Now, we have plans. Now, we can think about the future. My son will go to school. He’ll have a better life.

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