Across Cambodia, there are hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities. These people are of differing ages and genders and could have acquired a disability from birth, as a result of a medical issue such as polio or from the civil war or a landmine. These disabilities cause a multitude of issues for these people such as getting a job or obtaining an education. Services for these people are few and far between and thus, many resort to begging to feed themselves and their family.
Sokhorn Kreung is a 46-year-old single mother of 2 orphaned children. She contracted polio when she was young and lost the use of her legs. About 4 years ago, after Sokhorn took in 2 orphaned children she decided to use her savings to start a business selling grocery products and snacks. The business was very small but helped her avoid begging for money on the streets.
Not long after at a community meeting, she raised how she was struggling with the cost of living and couldn’t afford school supplies for her children. She was concerned about being able to provide food for her family every day as borrowing money at high interest rates and paying for medical supplies for her children had crippled her financially.
Sokhorn’s wish was granted and she was directed towards Cufa’s Village Entrepreneur program where she gained sponsorship for her business. This provided her with the finance to improve, fixing her stall and expanding her product range and learning new business skills that would stay with her long past her completion of the program. She said of her involvement, “I am really glad that my business has now improved and I have more profit to support my family.”
Cufa holds training sessions and business consultations once a quarter, along with one-on-one assistance being made available. Sokhorn has learnt a lot from the training as she said, “Previously I had no idea how to market my business to customers. Now I know many ways in which I can do this. Things like customer service skills, keeping my stall clean and bookkeeping have given me much success."
Now, Sokhorn has been able to purchase new school uniforms, stationery and pay for the study that her children have undertaken. In addition, she can now afford medicine and also does not need to take a loan out to buy rice which she sometimes did before.
Finally, Sokhorn had to say of the program, “Many thanks for the support. I will always work hard and do my best to care for my business. I now look forward to the future as I can further improve my life and provide for my children.”
Find out more about how Cufa is changing lives through the Village Entrepreneur program.
Kyar Chaung village is a rural village situated north of Yangon in Myanmar that was recently transformed by one of Cufa's programs. Most of the villagers here are farmers with low incomes and many of them lack any kind of financial knowledge. The community had a poor understanding of how to manage a business and without the ability to develop a business plan or savings habits there was a large loss of income for them.
The Cufa Myanmar team began working in Kyar Chaung village as part of the Credit Union Development program in April 2018. The program came to the village to reduce the level of poverty in the town and turn many of these villagers lives around. Since Cufa began working, aiming to raise the towns average income and introduce good savings habits, the townspeople have been highly engaged and happy for the introduction of the program. Cufa's financial literacy lessons were the first time in their life they had had the benefits of saving explained. The Cufa team taught the community how to start saving, set saving goals, manage daily or monthly income and expenses and how to co-operate with a team.
In August 2018, thanks to the program, the village made the decision to start their own community-owned bank. They named it Shwe Taung Kyar Saving Bank and started with 179 members. Once they all had a safe and secure place to save their money they felt great and excited to expand it.
Currently, the villagers have regular meetings and training with the Cufa team and their community-owned bank is still developing. Many of the villagers are managing their businesses much more effectively and have developed business plans. As well as this, the townspeople do not have to borrow money at high interest rates and have a better education and understanding of financial concepts.
Villagers from Kyar Chaung village are now saving their money and doing it with pleasure. They have built a strong community-owned bank and both they and Cufa see a bright future for the village.
Find out more about how Cufa is providing financial access with the Credit Union Development program.
Pisey Chhom is a fifteen year old girl living in Svay Rieng province. She has been lucky enough to learn a range of financial literacy skills in a fun and engaging way through Cufa’s Children’s Financial Literacy program. Pisey hopes she can use her knowledge from the program to help her achieve her goal of reaching university!
She is part of a large family with two brothers and a sister along with her parents who work selling groceries in their store. Pisey is currently studying in grade eleven at her local high school which is a ten minute bicycle ride from her house. The dream Pisey currently has is to become an engineer and thus she is studying all science related subjects as part of her education.
Previously, Pisey paid little attention to saving her money. She received a small allowance of 1000 riels ($0.35) a day to take to school. This would usually be spent on snacks or toys as Pisey have any savings goals. She started working with her parents in their store and began to notice how hard they would work. In addition to working at the stall, her parents also sold much of their produce at the markets including the chickens and pigs that they farm.
Four years ago Pisey joined the Children’s Financial Literacy program and learnt a range of savings skills that will help her later in life. She asked her mother to buy her a piggy bank which she started using religiously. Now Pisey earns more money thanks to her work tutoring younger students and busking. She is able to use the savings skills that she learnt from Cufa project officers and has been able to save up for some new stationery and study material for school and even a bicycle.
“My father encouraged me to save after reading the program workbooks and even empowered me by opening an account with our local credit union to help.” Pisey described. She now has over $650 saved in this account and everyone in the family has opened one.
Pisey’s father had to say of her journey, “I hope the money she saves every day will help her to study and in reaching university and achieving her big dream.
Cufa’s Children’s Financial Literacy program has taught over 100,000 disadvantaged students across Cambodia and Myanmar about developing improved savings habits in a fun and engaging way.
Cufa’s LEED program teaches disadvantaged rural villagers business skills, with a focus on businesses for people with disabilities. Thanks to the program, Meun Ith has been able to build a successful motorbike repairs business completely changing his life.
Meun grew up in rural Cambodia and stopped studying at a young age to help his parents work. Unfortunately, when Meun was young a tree fell on him, breaking his leg and leaving him with a lifelong disability. He now lives in Kompong Chhang province, central Cambodia with his wife and two sons.
Due to his limited education, Meun was working as a mechanic earning a modest income. He had the opportunity to learn some skills in this position, however, he lacked the crucial business knowledge to make more money from these skills.
Meun started his small motorbike repair business in April 2018. He did this with a small plot of land and an initial investment of $500. While first starting his business he encountered many challenges such as having no budget and lacking the proper electronic tools.
Meun joined Cufa’s LEED program shortly after and was selected as a target beneficiary for the program. This allowed him to receive special training and business consultation. Hence, Meun was able to develop a business work plan and gain skills in many business concepts. He also received new electronic tools from the program. The business began to grow very quickly due to this help, as did Meun’s confidence.
Currently, Meun is earning around $8 a day from his business, managing to save around $3 of this. Moreover, he has been able to budget wisely for his daily expenses like food, but his most important cost is his son's education. His improving business has led to a much better living standard. Looking towards the future, Meun would like to extend his store and start selling beverages as well for extra income.
He had to say, “I want to thank Cufa so much for providing significant support to my business in the community”
As a man who could not read or write and lacked the critical skills to find employment, Chek Chin was struggling to make ends meet with his family. Basic necessities like food, healthcare and his children’s education were an ongoing struggle until he found out about Cufa’s Village Entrepreneur program.
It all started when he noticed his neighbour’s chicken farming business excelling. His neighbour was a participant in Cufa’s Village Entrepreneur program. This led Chek to go to his local community-owned bank to sign up for sponsorship.
Initially, Chek started off the program by setting up a chicken farm. However, once he had developed his chicken farm, he started a second business building and selling cement stairways. This business was very successful because of the large amount of raised houses in Cambodia.
Recently, Chek was determined to have a sustainable business by Cufa project officers. Throughout the program, Cufa project officers gave Chek assistance and guidance, with quarterly field trips to see successful businesses, one-on-one support and more. Thanks to this, Chek not only was able to learn how to make good quality stairs and effectively farm chickens but also gained a strong understanding of market assessments, business admin and chicken food production.
Chek now has a quarterly income of $943.74 but that did not come without challenges. Throughout the program, his biggest challenge was the competition from other local chicken farms. However, starting a second business to differentiate helped his income. Additionally, consistently promoting his business and maintaining customer relationships meant that this issue was easily overcome.
He had to say to his sponsor, “Many thanks, I appreciate your kind support. My businesses have developed well and I now have a great workplace. I now have enough cement stairways, chickens and materials to sustain my family and businesses in the long-term.”
Sam Pholirak is a young boy living in Cambodia who had not developed very good spending habits. He often asked his parents for money to take to school and spent it on toys, snacks and other small items without knowing how hard his parents worked to make their money. After attending Cufa’s Children’s Financial Literacy program he has improved savings habits and gained a better appreciation for the hard work of his parents.
Sam lives in Boeng Village, Svay Rieng Province, Cambodia with his family – his parents, two siblings and aunt. He is currently studying in Grade 7 at the local secondary school and his put little thought towards his future. His parents work as farmers, growing rice, chickens and pigs, earning enough to save a small amount each month.
He did not know the value of money and wasn’t aware of needing it for emergencies. Sam’s aunt had previously given him 4000 riels ($1.36) a week to take to school. She said “I am now 56 and am beginning to develop health problems so I cannot work as much. I am on the committee for our local community-owned bank so could suggest for him to open a bank account.”
2015 was when Sam first received his Children’s Financial Literacy education. He asked his mother if she could buy him a piggy bank to start using to commit to his savings. It wasn’t long before Sam had saved up enough money to buy himself a bicycle. “After I learnt about savings at school and showed my aunt the lesson book she was very encouraging and now I have saved for a bike,” Sam said.
His mother continues to give her children 2000 riel ($0.68) to take to school as pocket money. She encourages them to save as much as they can. “I want Sam to finish university, so I always encourage him to study hard. I hope the money he saves every day will help him to achieve this goal,” she describes.
Sam is now very optimistic about the future. His ability to create savings goals and knowledge of financial literacy has given him more independence and increased his interest in his education.
Cufa’s Children’s Financial Literacy program teaches disadvantaged students across Cambodia and Myanmar about developing improved savings habits in a fun and engaging way.