Cambodian Yeng Chhourn and Timorese Domingas Dos Santos live thousands of kilometres apart, but their lives are remarkably similar.
Both are widows with large families to support – Yeng Chhourn has six children and Domingas nine – and both are living on barely $1 day. Simply finding a way to provide healthy food is a challenge, let alone basic healthcare and education for their children. For most, access to financial services is simply out of the picture. Determined to make a change, the women have now joined CUFA’s Village Entrepreneur program in the hope of finding a community investor.
How a micro-business is born
Working closely with local community owned financial institutions, CUFA identifies the poorest villagers like Yeng and Domingas. These two go-getting women have each developed a clear business plan that shows their goals and the steps they need to take to achieve them. Once they’ve been linked with their investor, CUFA will provide ongoing support and mentoring, as well as training on everything from basic bookkeeping to how to look after their animals or market their business.
Despite their life of extreme hardship to date, their determination shines through when they talk about their goals.
Domingas, 45, is a member of the Refam Credit Union in Timor Leste. After her husband died, Domingos took on a pig raising business to support her nine children. As is the case with so many families in countries like Timor Leste, Domingas’s older children have already had to leave school to support her in the business. “My goal is to expand my business of pig raising so I can ensure my children can access a better education and have a good future,” she said.
Yeng Chhourn, 55, lost her husband to heart disease. She said, “The responsibility to raise my children is in my hands, and sadly three of children decided to stop studying to help me support the family. My children and I are working hard as labourers in the rubber farm as much as we can because we don’t want the other children to stop school.” Yeng Chhourn and her children are trying their best to save enough capital to open a grocery stall, a business that could provide a stable income rather than relying on fluctuating seasonal work. “My goal is … to ensure my children are going to school regularly like other kids and to be able to access better healthcare.”
Remarkable changes happen with CUFA’s Village Entrepreneur program, and the results speak for themselves. Through the generous support of Community Investors and ongoing training, Village Entrepreneurs are increasing their profits on average by a whopping 1300%, after just three years on the program. Business profits are not only helping Village Entrepreneurs support their families with better healthcare and education, but they contribute to vital community infrastructure too, like improved roads, water and sanitation services.
What starts as a small loan to mothers like Domingas and Yeng Chhourn ends with a thriving micro-enterprise, improved living conditions, real education prospects – and the dignity of lifting themselves and their whole communities out of poverty.
Becoming a Community Investor is easy – and as life changing for you as it is for your Village Entrepreneur. Simply click here to choose your Village Entrepreneur now, and transform a family’s future forever.
SALEB: “I felt like I was dreaming but it was real; I got business support and my hope would be realized. My greatest moment is having enough food for my children and seeing them go to school.”
UT: “Please thank my community investor for me. They are like my second mother and father. My life has changed so much and I don’t know how to thank them”.
MAO OUK: “I now have a successful grocery business which has allowed me to contribute to my children’s weddings while also being able to look after my family. I helped my son go to university where he studies finance and banking. I made improvements to my house by putting on a new roof and steps.”