Mrs Sey and her husband used to earn a living as farmers and labourers. In their small village in the remote Cambodian province of Kampong Thom, they had no way of changing their circumstances or providing better opportunities for their four children.
Things changed when Mrs Sey joined a women’s savings group in her village. Together with the other 38 members, she began to set aside $3 – 4 each month and take out micro-loans to support her children through school.
The group helped the women get into the habit of saving, gain confidence in repaying loans, and gain greater overall financial literacy.
Ambition for change
After visiting a women’s business group in Phnom Penh and seeing how women were working together to improve their incomes, Mrs Sey decided to establish her own group with two other women in her village. They attended training in book-keeping, small business management, marketing, and entrepreneurship.
The women started two businesses – one selling cashews and the other fertiliser. They decided on these models as they would provide income year-round: the cashews can be sold from December to April only, while fertiliser sells well through both the rainy and dry seasons.
The women established by-laws for the business group and elected Mrs Sey as group leader. Mrs Sey assumed responsibility for book-keeping and liaising with authorities, while all women agreed to contribute to marketing their new businesses.
A successful start
One of Mrs Sey’s very first accomplishments was negotiating the purchase and free delivery of fertiliser to get the business up and running. Since then, the group has earned up to $320 per quarter from selling nuts and fertiliser.
They have used their profits to buy more fertiliser, with the aim of establishing their own distribution centre for the village.
“Involvement with the saving group and business group improved my knowledge and increased my family income,” said Mrs Sey. “I am not totally reliant on my husband like before.”
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Sustainable Development Goals
This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).