By Chanratana Som, CUFA Cambodia Country Program Manager
Two years after joining the Village Entrepreneur Initiative Program (VEI) in Lay Bo commune, Takeo province, Mr. Sokhorn Chom, has turned his family life to a positive page of hope and success.
Thanks to his community investor, this family can gradually stand up on their own feet through business empowerment, financial literacy, and education provided by CUFA. Of course, a journey of moving up from right below the poverty line is not an easy thing but if one thinks it is impossible, this 38-year old farmer would be a great testimony.
He joined Lay Bo Credit Union in 2010 and was able to save about US$2 per month and since then his savings has reached US$125. He added “I was trying very hard to save some small amounts of money so that I could deposit it regularly with the savings group.”
Sokhorn got US$75 as a loan from the saving bank to set up a new business, producing cement footings, to make some extra money. Through various engagements with the credit union, he learned about the Village Entrepreneur Initiative Program operated in Lay Bo and became one of the candidates applying for business support from VEI.
In June 2012, Sokhorn was selected as a Village Entrepreneur. With the ambition of becoming self-sufficient, he started up a small grocery business at home jointly managed by his wife. In addition to financial support, business follow-up support and consultation has been serving as an integral part of the program. “CUFA and credit union staff visit me regularly to understand my business progress and provided me inputs for improvement when needed. They are very helpful,” Sokhorn added.
Sokhorn is a farmer, originally born in Lay Bo commune, he got married when he was 21 years old and is now a father of four kids, one of whom is a garment worker while the other three are still at school. Inherited from his parents, who were also farmers, he owns a plot of rice paddy on which the entire family made a living, and lived in a small wooden house. Rice production has been the main source of family income and support. Like other community residents, global climate change, barren land, and lack of irrigation infrastructure seriously impacted rice farming in Lay Bo which inevitably brought them into financial hardship. “Several years ago, my family was in a very critical financial condition. I had no saving, nor regular income. I thought about investing in some small home based business but was restricted by capital and skills,” said Sokhorn. As a result, the whole family had been facing challenges with health care, education for the children, food and nutrition.
With income from his grocery store, Sokhorn started a second business in January 2014, raising black ducks and growing vegetables. This new initiative has been working really well. By March 2014, 60 ducks have been raised and ten beds of vegetables have been grown.
The grocery, animal, and vegetable business generates about US$100 per month. With this income, Sokhorn will soon invest in a pig raising business so that he can make extra money, which would go towards educating his children.
Sokhorn’s story would not be possible without the generous donations of Community Investors. CUFA would like to thank all its Community Investors for their support of this life-changing program.