Living as a farmer in rural Cambodia often means that locals need to work in multiple businesses to support their family. La Neang is a 39 year old Cambodian mother with 2 children. La is a rice farmer and her husband is working as local construction worker which earns them less than $0.50 per family member per a day to support their family. La has been participating in Cufa’s Village Entrepreneur program for over 2 years, farming chickens behind her house, and with the support of her Australian Community Investor (CI), her business has been able to gradually grow and develop as she has acquired and applied new skills through the program.
Before participating in the program, La was raising her chickens in a small area only partially fenced and suffered some issues which greatly impacted here ability to sustain her business. Some of the issues she faced included her chickens dying due to illness and chickens being stolen or taken by animals due to not being fully enclosed.
Once an Australian CI elected to support La, she was able to participate in the Village Entrepreneur program. The Cufa run program over the few years has taught her new skills and knowledge to improve her business and her earning capacity. This included how to look after her chickens with providing a strong fully fenced coop; making good quality feed and providing a clean water supply to prevent disease and loss. She has also learnt business skills including how
to attract more customers and compete with others in the marketplace. Through the program La has been able to develop her business and increase her chicken product range. La said “I am now happy that I am able to raise my chickens in a safe space surrounded by a secure, strong wire fence, keep my baby chicks healthier, and my production is increasing”. La has improved her breeding program and she is now raising about 70 chickens whereas previously it was only about 20 chickens. With the increase in her business profit, La said she has used it to afford to support her children education and family’s healthcare, purchase furniture and save $2.50 per month to ensure they have a better life in the future. To ensure the sustainability of her farm in the future, La has a plan to expand the farming areas and coop size, construct more special coops for baby chickens and learn more technical and business skills. “I and my family would like to say big thanks to my community investor for the kind support, without the support, my business would not be improved like this, and we hope that the business will more benefit as income for my family”, La added.
In the September issue of Cufa Voice we brought to you the launch of our new Recycling Plastics Livelihood Project in Cambodia south-west Sihanoukville Province. This project is designed to improve the livelihoods, economic and entrepreneurial opportunities for rural communities in the Sihanoukville Province with a strong focus on developing female entrepreneurs and
Chea Vanny is one community member in the province who is very interested in actively participating in this project.
Chea is 36 years old single mother of a 5-year-old boy, living with her parents in a village in the Sihanoukville province. Chea was widowed when her son was 6 months old. As a widow, Chea has had to focus on taking care of her young son and so she couldn’t work in the factory or casino like some of her neighbours. Her sister and parents currently support the cost of her son's education.? After Chea was introduced to our Recycling Plastics program, she was very interested and thought it would provide potential for her to generate an income so she did not have to rely on her family members for assistance. Chea said that not only would it provide a means of financial support for her and her son but she said “I want to learn how to recycle the plastic as today there is a lot of plastic everywhere along the public road and on the lake near my house”.
Project participants, like Chea, will learn how to use specialist machinery to recycle plastic waste so that it can be remodelled into items that can be sold. These technical skills will be enhanced with participants receiving business and financial skills training and support to enable them to establish a sustainable business with the added benefits of bringing the concept of recycling to rural communities, increasing awareness on how to manage plastic waste and more broadly, cleaning-up the environment.
When Thida was 10 years old she spent her money on toys, junk food, and other things that she wanted. She did not know how the value of money and did not understand the need to save for any emergency needs in the future. This was before attending the Cufa’s Children’s Financial Literacy program during the 2012-13 school year which laid the foundation for her future goals.
Today, Thida is 17 years old and lives with her parents, 2 sisters in Cambodia. She is the youngest daughter and her father works in the construction industry and her mother grows vegetables and raises chickens. Thida is now a first year university student at University studying a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in English Literature with a career goal of becoming an English teacher.
Thida says “the knowledge I received from the program 7 years ago when I was in grade 6 at primary school had a significant impact on me and it prepared me to set and strive to achieve higher goals from my small savings that I had then started.”
“After attending the Cufa program during school, I started saving her money in a piggy bank which I had asked my mother to buy it for me”, Thida said. “I set my savings goals, and first saved to pay for study materials, my school uniform and a bicycle”, she added.
Thida always hoped to continue to study at university when she was at primary school because her uncle was studying at university at that time. Thida said she really wanted to thank Cufa and the donors that supported the CFL project in Cambodia as the CFL program provided her with the money management skills when she was young laying the foundation that allowed her to develop a strong habit of saving and managing her money well.
Nowadays, she still saving money in her piggy bank but only 500 riels (18c AUD) a day as she spends more money now on her university needs.
Many children, like Thida, in poor communities in Cambodia can’t save the money for their school fees due to the low income of their family household but what they can do and useful for the family is saving the money to buy their school materials and uniform.
Read more about Cufa’s programs at cufa.org.au/our-programs/
Savatt Pann is 48 years old and a father of six children. He lost his right hand and left eye in 1984 during the Cambodian war near the border of Thailand. He used to feel guilty as his family had to live in a small palm leaf house as it was difficult for him to find better paying work due to his education and disability Around 4 years ago Savatt has started to raise some pigs, earning a small amount of money to contribute to supporting his family.
It was in 2016 that Cufa staff in Cambodia identified Savatt as being eligible to participate in its Village Entrepreneur (VE) program. This program is designed to provide essential education and business skills, support, and guidance participants need to run and build a profitable micro-business. More importantly, this program enables them to provide essential services to their families such as healthcare, education for their children, sanitation, electricity and water; services that were not affordable for them before joining the program. The Australian public select an individual Village Entrepreneur to support at a cost of $39 per month to help them build their own micro-business and become financially sustainable within three years. Savatt said that when he was selected that he was committed to the program and did not want to disappoint. He said that he would try his best to change his business his family’s standard of living.
Savatt said that through the program he has learnt many skills in business management and farming activities. “I am more able now to looking after the health of my pigs. I can make good feed for them and prevent them from getting sick by using bacteria killing liquid and I have built a better, bigger pig pen which I regularly clean”, he said.
Savatt said his pig farming business had contributed to being able to change his family’s livings conditions. Recently, he has used the profits to build a new house, install a sanitary toilet and improve other household items. He also said he has been able to afford to support his younger children’s education. He added “I have recently purchased good stationeries, new bicycles, and uniforms for my kids, and I am saving up in my account to support their studies in higher education and also to ensure good healthcare for my family members”.
Savatt’s goal is to have a regular income to support his family and ensure his children can get a higher education. To make this happen, he decided to expand his small pig farming business and using the farming and business management skills learnt and his business profit Savatt has now started duck and cow farming so that he could earn more money to support his family.
Savatt said “I will never stop my farming businesses, I like them, and wanted to see them keep growing. I will also purchase a few cows to raise so I can sell them for profits and also get cow manure for my rice field.”
Savatt said he is very pleased to be in the program because he could obtain the skills he needed to grow and expand his business. He added, “I want to thank my Australian supporter and wish them good health and successful work.”
To make a real life changing impact today visit ve.org.au and select a Village Entrepreneur to support.
This month Cufa is pleased to report that 14 village entrepreneurs supported by individual Community Investors in Australia, under Cufa’s Village Entrepreneur Program in Cambodia have reached sustainability with their businesses. Businesses ranging from pig, duck and chicken farmers to grocery sellers are now generating profits that enable them to run a viable business and help them change their circumstances for the better providing improvements to their house, affording education and health care for their children and being able to provide regular and better quality food for their families.
An example of the success of the Village Entrepreneur Program can be seen through Ratha Kung’s experience. Ratha is a 28-year-old Cambodian mother of two whose husband sadly passed way three years and now lives with her elderly parents. Ratha was a grocery seller earning around $4.50 a day as the family’s main income. In late December 2016, Ratha expressed the desire to participate in the Cufa program to help her develop the skills and knowledge to expand her grocery business to better support her family and give her children more opportunities in the future. Before the support of the Village Entrepreneur program, Ratha sold a small range of products. Today, she now sells a greater variety of products, and recently she has built a big new stall, and sells coffee and other drinks based on market demand. Ratha’s business income has been increasing over the past 3 years and she is now earning around US$ 823.20 a quarter. Ratha said that “I am happy that I now earn more money from my business and I have used the profits to pay for my family’s needs including building a sanitary toilet, making a vegetable garden to provide better quality food for us, constructing a fence around our house, purchasing stationery and new bikes for my children’s education.” Ratha added “it is with many thanks to the program and the support, that I am able to learn a lot of business skills and I am also happy to share this new knowledge and skills with other village entrepreneurs, and I am so proud now that my business now is built up well to support my family”.
Just like Ratha’s story, Cufa’s Village Entrepreneur program empowers rural villagers in Cambodia, who normally earn less than USD$2 a day, to build and manage a sustainable small business, usually within 3 years. The program encourages, people like yourselves to select a local villager from the profiles on our program website (www.ve.org.au) and commit support of $39 AUD a month. This support provides the training and education, monitoring, ongoing support and guidance from Cufa project officers, and financing that they need to establish, run and grow a profitable micro-business and contribute to the strengthening of their community’s micro-economy. They are also supported with a business plan and taught marketing skills along with financial skills like bookkeeping.
Many people from rural areas, for example, complement their existing skills and learn new techniques to become successful chicken, pig or vegetable farmers. Among other topics they learn about how to take care of their animals and vegetables, vaccination processes, and hygiene in their work areas. Other villagers choose to become tailors, hairdressers, bicycle repairers and many other occupations for which they receive specific training.
Through this program you can assist participants to be able to provide the essential services to their families such as healthcare, education for their children, sanitation, electricity and water; services that were not affordable for them before joining the program.
Support a village entrepreneur today, for only $39 a month you can make a positive impact that will be experienced for generations to come. Visit www.ve.org.au to find out more.
In last month’s newsletter we shared with you the story about, 33-year-old Sreypoa Sin, from the village of Thmor Pean, Cambodia who in 2018 was selected to be a beneficiary of Cufa’s Livelihood Enhancement for Economic Development (LEED) program. Thanks to this Cufa program she successfully established and grew a business, making and selling the local Khymer cakes. At the time, given her success, Sreypoa was exploring other business opportunities and we are happy to advise that she has now set up a tailoring business drawing on her previous 14 years experience of working in a garment factory.
This is an example of how with the confidence, new-found knowledge, business and financial skills, and the support of trained staff, Sreypoa has been able to change her and her families lives around.
It is only through the generous donations from our supporters that we are able to continue to design, establish and run programs to impart financial skills and knowledge to assist those in need build the foundations for a better and sustainable future for themselves and their future generations.
We wish Sreypoa and her family, all the best for their future.
In Cambodia, burning waste remains common practice, particularly in rural areas, due to the lack of dumpsites or waste collection services. In particular, the Sihanoukville Province in southwest Cambodia known for its beaches, tropical islands and the mangrove jungles of Ream National Park, has experienced a dramatic increase in the amount of plastic waste (main image) mainly due to the significant economic development and population growth in recent years. In liaison with the local communities and government, Cufa scoped and designed a Recycling Plastic Livelihoods Project to help address this issue with the project commencing on 1 July 2019.
Over the past 3 years, Cufa has partnered with communities in Sihanoukville Province through the running of its Strengthening Resettlement and Income Restoration Implementation (SRIRI) project. This project focussed on assisting displaced families by linking them to employment opportunities; providing financial skills and access to local financial institutions and helping effectively integrate them into these new communities as well as providing training on how to adequately monitor and repair key elements of the community such as the water supply, drainage, waste management, roads, and vegetation. It is through this past experience that Cufa developed a sound understanding of the increasing environmental issues that the locals were facing due to the rapid economic development. And as a result of which the Recycling Plastics Livelihood Project evolved.
The Recycling Plastics Project is designed to improve the livelihoods, economic and entrepreneurial opportunities for rural communities in the Sihanoukville Province with a strong focus on developing female entrepreneurs. Project participants will learn how to use specialist machinery to recycle plastic waste so that they it can be remodelled into items that can be sold. These technical skills will be enhanced with participants receiving business and financial skills training and support to enable them to establish a sustainable business with the added benefits of bringing the concept of recycling to rural communities, increasing awareness on how to manage plastic waste and more broadly, cleaning-up the environment.
The Recycling Plastics Livelihoods Project will also be implemented across five villages in the township of Taik Kyi in Myanmar. The project will be adapted to local conditions however there will still be a strong focus on aspiring female entrepreneurs through community social enterprises specialising in recycling and reusing plastic waste while improving the environment.
Image: Waste collection in a local village in Myanmar.
We’ll keep you updated as the project progresses.
In 2015, after 14 years of working in a garment factory in the village of Thmor Pean, Cambodia, 33-year-old Sreypoa Sin, stopped work to take care of her children. The family became soley dependent upon her woodcutter husband’s daily income which they found was barely enough to provide for their family.
This dire situation motivated her to start a new business – making Khmer cakes (Ansorm) with a start-up amount of 30,000 riels (approximately $10.85) providing her with a modest income.
In 2018, Sreypoa was selected to be a beneficiary of Cufa’s Livelihood Enhancement for Economic Development (LEED) program and received seed support from the project under Cufa’s operation. Since the project commenced, she has attended capacity building training, micro-enterprise training and received business improvement consultations. After intensively working on her business plan, being trained on marketing strategy and provided with seed support (a sack of glutinous rice, white sugar, green bean, and a box of red bull) Sreypoa has seen a rapid increase in her business.
Nowadays, Sreypoa has contracted five customers, a mixture of wholesalers and retailers. Her cakes are in high demand which has seen sales increased by 400%. She can use up 100kg of glutinous rice per week, producing a large number of cakes to meet the demand.
Motivated by big sales and looking for a potential location, she ambitiously created a grocery store after receiving seed support and gaining enough confidence from the training to explore another business opportunity to provide additional income for her family.
The program also taught Sreypoa how to manage her income to cater for daily expenses and this has enabled her to reinvest in her business and save some money.
Applying the knowledge and skills gained from the LEED program training has greatly assisted in Sreypoa growing her business and her income. The result of which has improved her family’s living conditions. Sreypoa’s neighbours have been watching her success and are they too are now interesting in the program.
Sreypoa thanked Cufa for the significant support both with materials and skills. She said of the program, “Hope is the zest of life and I hope to improve my business in the future”.
Raksmey is 9 years old girl who lives with her parents and two brothers. Raksmey said she used to spend all her pocket money and never thought of saving any of it as she did not understand the value of money or the importance of saving. This was until she participated in Cufa’s Children’s Financial Literacy (CFL) Program at the local school, after which, she realised what a difference saving money could do for her now and for her future.
It was just over 8 months ago, in December 2018, when the local Cufa Project Officer visited Raksmey school to teach the young students about financial literacy. The CFL program is integrated into the regular school curriculum and encourages students to develop lifelong savings habits at an early age. The program utilises a custom-designed interactive app, which is in the local language on a tablet, provided by Cufa. Technology is combined with a story book about Ronnie Riel’s adventures and a lesson book illustrating the importance of saving to best engage the students to learn and reinforce the valuable learnings.
After her lessons, Raksmey realised that she could start to save her pocket money so that she could buy a bike. Not only did Raksmey realise what she could buy for today but at such a young age she thought about her future and saving to help her achieve her goal of being a nurse. So excited was she about the potential that she shared these learnings with her parents, and they bought her a piggy bank to help her save.
Raksmey has been so motivated by the learnings that she has shared the Ronnie Riel’s stories with her cousins and her parents. Raksmey continue to put money that her older brother, who works in a garment factory, and her parents give to her, in her piggy bank.
We look forward to sharing more about Raksmey’s journey in future newsletters.
These are some of the results we have produced in the past 3 years of this valuable, life changing program
Read more about Cufa’s Children’s Financial Literacy Program and how you can assist us in building a future for children.
Cufa, with support from the British Embassy in Phnom Penh, has been running a project with the specific focus of strengthening Cambodian women’s voices and encouraging participation within communities.
The project, Women Empowerment and Engagement in Democracy, has been formed through our Credit Union Development project and extensive experience working in rural Cambodia has assisted us in the project’s implementation. It has been delivered across 21 villages in four provinces and measures the participation rates of women in organisations such as credit unions and village committees. The results have seen a higher participation rate and deeper engagement for women within communities. This will enable women to gain skills in areas such as public speaking and create a platform for networking, both within and across rural communities.
The project covers four key topic areas:
- Benefits of community engagement
- Confidence building
- Public speaking
- Women’s networking forums
Romam Ki (pictured right) is a 25-year-old farmer living in the Ratanakiri Province in rural Cambodia with her husband and three children. Cufa spoke with her recently about her experiences in the project so far!
“I was incredibly excited upon hearing that this project was being implemented in my community! I am very appreciative of this female empowerment project and I have been able to learn, along with others in my community, how women’s rights work in a democracy.”
Initially, Romam was extremely scared of public speaking and even writing in a public meeting. She did not feel comfortable in environments of more than 10 people. However, after participating in the project she had an unexpected change in attitude.
Her family told her, “You are a woman, you should stay at home to take care of your family.” Additionally, her husband also asked, “What benefit did you get from the project? How much money will you make? Why are you participating?”
Romam continued to tell people “I want to change my life and build my confidence. From this project, I can learn about the realities of life and develop my opinions and attitudes.”
After participating in various meetings and training with Cufa she began to learn and she highlighted capacity development as an area that she enjoyed, helping her increase her ability, be brave, confident and build experience. She was able to share her knowledge and experience as well. She began to understand more about the problems of women in her community and how to solve them.
One day Romam was selected by the local authority to be a female activist in her community.
“This made me very happy as I was selected for such a position and the project has helped me empower my life.”
She had to say of her involvement, “I would like to thank Cufa Cambodia and the UK Embassy in Phnom Penh for starting this project in my community. I am extremely happy to be increasing my confidence and ability to share knowledge within the community. I hope Cufa will continue to support the community and other women who have not participated in the project.”