According to the World Economic Forum, Cambodia ranks 124th out of 137 countries with access to Tertiary Education, and only 10% of the population has access to a Tertiary Education. For many, it is a dream that will be an insurmountable task. For Sophy, it has been a lifelong dream that for a long while, she thought she might not have achieved.
After finishing High School, Sophy had to work in the local rubber plantations, supporting her family. For many in Cambodia, this is a common occurrence, children working with their families from a young age with 68% of Young Women ages 16-24 are employed.
As part of our response to COVID-19, Cufa transitioned its Recycling Plastics Livelihoods Program to producing soap through Community Enterprises. Sophy jumped at the chance to join her local enterprise, in the hopes of earning extra income but also expanding her financial literacy.
“When I joined, I thought I had a chance to learn new skills and produce soap by myself, something I have seen my family pay a lot of money for. Now after the training, I can produce soap for my community and sell it at an affordable price”.
Now Sophy wants to make her dream come true and is actively saving what she makes from her soap business to pay for her university studies. She hopes to study marketing and hopes to be able to support her family in her future career.
You're probably aware of the evolving situation in Myanmar which is taking a turn for the worse since its inception on February the first. We’ve needed to put the safety of our staff members and the communities we work with first.
Using a wait and see approach, we’ve suspended the project activities for the Children’s Financial Literacy Program and Livelihoods Program. For the DigiCUD Program, we’ll continue to progress the development of the online banking platform which is carried out remotely using Internet. We expect there’ll be some time before we’re able to return to the classrooms and to the communities we work with in Myanmar. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.
As the sunrise announces the start of a new school day, 12 year old Sina helps her grandmother in her vegetable garden, hoping to increase their daily income. Once she finishes her morning, Sina rapidly prepares herself to be at school on time, as she has been waiting to learn more about Cufa’s Children’s Financial Literacy Program. She knows that not only this will be a fun day to learn something new, but also she wants to pass on this knowledge to her most beloved family person, her little sister.
At such young age, Sina was aware that her daily expenses were too high, and that she was not able to save, yet she did not know how to save big with very little. Despite having some extra income from her grandmother’s vergetable garden, she felt the need to have the right skills and tools to grow. Once Cufa provided Sina with the five fundamental topics of the CFL, her view and attitude towards savings changed completely. “I started saving and now I’m planning to purchase a bicycle, books, and pens when I need them. Therefore, I don’t need to ask money from my parents”.
When Sina knew Cufa would pay a visit to her parents, she could not contain her excitement, as she and the Cufa staff could reinforce her entire family with financial literacy. Now she is proud to use her knowledge to pass it onto her sister and friends in the way of storytelling, which she narrates in the story of “Ronnie Riel”, provided by Cufa’s CFL Program.
On Boxing Day in 2004, a devastating Tsunami impacted the coasts of South Asia, Indonesia and East Africa. This disaster required international and domestic efforts to rebuild the affected areas. Following the immediate recovery period, Cufa worked in Sri Lanka to reconstruct and rebuild local credit unions. The Tsunami had enacted a devastating toll on the local credit unions, with over 200 destroyed in Sri Lanka.
In 2006, Cufa worked with the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) to undertake the project, welcoming the expertise and funding Cufa brought to the project. WOCCU responded rapidly to the disaster, having an extensive history in Sri Lanka, conducting a wide-ranging consultation process with communities impacted by the disaster. By doing so, a plan was developed to rehabilitate and rebuild the credit unions. As part of this plan, Cufa conducted a monitoring visit, interviewing project beneficiaries across Sri Lanka.
Cufa saw an enthusiastic comeback by the credit unions, with the credit union in Kosgoda seeing a 50% increase in membership. Their assets increased totalling R 2.6 million, up from R 1.6 million before the Tsunami. Cufa also assisted in the reopening of eight credit unions
Chesa finishes up on the final touches of packaging her products in the early morning sun, ready for the day’s markets. Chesa lives with her husband and two children close to the city, but due to poor roads and public transportation, it’s a difficult commute. Because of this, it results in lower education levels in her area. Cufa’s arrival in the area allowed Chesa and her neighbours to study financial literacy and start up their own Village Savings Bank. This gave her community access to credit and various types of loan with training sessions provided alongside.
Before Cufa’s arrival, her lack of financial knowledge had meant that she did not have enough income to fully support her family. By attending Cufa’s training session, Chesa’s family now regularly saves. Through a loan from her local village savings banks, she has grown her small agriculture farming business and expanded into livestock farming.
By working with Cufa, Chesa’s community has been able to cement a foundation of financial inclusion, allowing the community’s youngest the opportunity to grow up involved in financial literacy.
Before 2017, Chanlina lived a tough life, as she struggled to make ends meet, working odd jobs in cashew and rubber plantations. Chanlina looked for advice with a local village elder, who pointed her towards a village savings bank (VSB) that worked with Cufa. When she joined up, Cufa worked with her and others in her village to develop their entrepreneurial and financial management skills, opening her up to the importance of saving.
Now she has been able to set up a micro-enterprise as a grocer in the local market, borrowing money from her VSB to buy her business’s initial expenses. After several successful years, she now generates around USD 300 monthly. She is now committed to saving, putting away $24 USD each month for budgeting or her husband’s treatment.,
For Chanlina, her microenterprise and the support from her village savings bank means she has been able to create stability in her and her family’s life. It has freed her from being constantly worried about her next payment and allowed her to plan for the future.
“I would like to thank Cufa for supporting and training my village savings bank and teaching me the fundamentals to set up my microenterprise. The money my village savings bank saves together is not only to support myself, but it’s there to make everyone in the community prosperous. I am very to be a member of this group” – Chanlina.