25 September 2019
Never too old to learn

55 year old, U Htay Thein, a rice paddy farmer, lives with his wife and daughter in San Pya Lauk Lay Chaung Village in Myanmar. For the past 53 years, Htay while he knew a little about saving as an individual he didn’t know or understand the power of saving money as a community group and the positive impact that this a good savings habit could have on his life and that of his family. He didn’t even know really why he should save and what to save for.  His local community had no financial institution that could serve them because they wouldn’t qualify for a bank account due to the lack of financial literacy. Today Htay, realises the importance of developing good savings habits and the importance of a community-owned savings bank, thanks to the Cufa Credit Union Development Program. This program supports and trains members of a community to form member-owned financial institutions.

It was in July 2017 that Htay became a member of his village-owned credit union and attended training sessions provided by the local Cufa staff. The training provided Htay with an understanding of how to save, the benefits of saving and other basic financial concepts. As a member of the bank’s Self-Help Group (SHG) which are established to increase financial inclusion, Htay now talks to other interested villagers about his experience, the benefits of developing good saving habits and the importance of such for every household. Htay says that the SHG also helps build trust amongst each other as many of the villagers at the start didn’t believe that they could save together. The benefits generated from a community saving together include such things as access to emergency loans, productive loans and interest on savings.

Two years on and Htay says that it gives him and his family so much pleasure to open their savings book and see the amount they are saving plus interest and now they have a better outlook for their future.

Financial access and inclusion for the poor is core to alleviating poverty.

Read more about Cufa’s CUD Programs at www.cufa.org.au.

For detail about Corporate Partnerships to support our CUD Programs please email marketing@cufa.org.au.

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25 September 2019
And never too young to learn

Khin Thandar Soe is 8 years old and lives with her mother, father and brother in Gyoe Kone Village in Myanmar. Khin would spend any money she had on buying snacks and dolls at the small local shops near their house. It wasn’t until she attended Cufa Children’s Financial Literacy (CFL) Program sessions being run in her village that she realised that she was wasting her money. Today, Khin is making regular savings at her local community-owned savings bank and has set savings goals, a great start at such a young age.

Khin said that it was after the first CFL lesson that she attended did she realise that she could make a change. Through the program children, like Khin, are taught financial literacy in their classroom with lessons every two to three months. The program encourages them to develop lifelong savings habits at a young age and also connects them with a savings account at their community-owned bank. Cufa uses a custom designed and developed app on a limited number of tablets to make the lessons fun for the children and reinforce the key messages and skills developed throughout the program.

Since starting the program, Khin said she has changed and rather than spending any money she has received, she now has built a strong savings habit and makes sure that she saves some of her money every day. Khin has shared her learnings with her parents and friends so that they can understand the benefit of saving for the future as well. Khin now understands the value of money and how building a strong savings habit will provide her and her family with a better future.

To read more about the Cufa Children’s Financial Literacy Program go to www.cufa.org.au

To find out more about Corporate Partnership for supporting a CFL Program please email marketing@cufa.org.au

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25 September 2019
Building security through diversification

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.

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25 September 2019
Recycling plastics to forge female entrepreneurs

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.

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22 August 2019
Motivated by sweet success

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”.  

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22 August 2019
Lessons learnt create behaviour change

Raksmey Yors is 9 years old girl who lives in the Cambodian village of Sam Lie 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.

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