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.
Foresters Community Finance is an ethical lender that not only provides fast and affordable loans to people in need of assistance, they also provide loans to many small businesses.
Foresters offers two loan products specifically to assist small businesses. The Enterprise Loan is available to any type of small business needing finance to start-up or for established businesses to take their business to the next level. Whereas QuicksART, is a micro-loan designed specifically for individual artists and small-scale cultural enterprises. QuicksART loans are the first step in the ladder of loan financing for the cultural sector and Foresters encourage individuals and enterprises to consider these loans within a mixed income portfolio of grants, donations, sponsorship and earned income.
Over the years Foresters has provided loans to social not-for-profit enterprises that support the community and/or benefit the environment. Recent examples include providing micro-finance loans to a specialist sporting club to purchase new rowing sculls; various businesses providing services for the disabled including schools, dancing groups, circus troupes; and local community stores.
Foresters believes in lending responsibly an amount that they can afford to pay; to help small businesses grow and become financially successful, therefore benefiting the whole community. There is a single loan establishment fee, which can be capitalised into the loan balance. There are no hidden monthly costs or early exit fees.
Foresters mission is to lend responsibly so that all customers are treated fairly with only products that are suited to their needs and individual situation.
To find out more or to apply for a small business loan visit foresters.org.au/enterprise-loans
Naing is an eight-year-old boy who lives in a small rural village in a region of southwest Myanmar where villagers usually spend their time farming crops and raising animals. Like many of the local villagers,
Naing’s father is a farmer and his mother, a housewife. Naing attended his first Children’s Financial Literacy (CFL) training session run by Cufa in 2019. He found that the lessons interesting and attended sessions regularly to learn more. It was after his fifth CFL lesson that Naing decided not to buy any more toys as he was sure it was wasting his money.
In late December 2019, Cufa held its first Children’s Financial Literacy Study Tour ceremony in Tha Yet Chaung Village. At the CFL Study Tour ceremony, committee and savings members of Tha Yet Chaung Village Bank demonstrated
how the village savings bank operated. A question and answer session was also run to interact with participants and make it interesting and fun. Naing participated in the Q&A session and answered the questions correctly and received a piggy bank, for which he was very excited about. In addition, participants took part in other activities like painting a box for savings and using the CFL Tablet for games which they played with their friends.
The CFL Study Tour took around 5 hours to run and a Cufa CFL Project Officer will run these study tours which will be conducted quarterly. A total of 199 people including 84 boys and 67 girls participated in this first CFL Study Tour.
Naing said that the study tour gave other children, not only the students like himself, as well as parents and teachers to become more aware of the benefits of saving money and the interest that can be earned from saving through their local village savings bank.
In November 2018, Foresters Community Finance first heard from Bryan. Bryan had recently retired and was seeking a loan for rental bond as he moved to better accommodation in far north Queensland. As many people know rental bond is quite a significant amount for a person to have on hand and for Bryan applying for a loan with Foresters made it easier for him to live better. Bryan started with a $1,400 rental bond loan.
Bryan is a respected member of the community and is highly in tune with his budget, how to calculate loans and interest rates. He runs a personal ledger of all his spending, income and repayment timings. Bryan also lends very small amounts out to family and friends in need.
Shortly after taking out the loan, Bryan was diagnosed with cancer and spent several months undergoing chemo treatment. During the times he was in hospital for treatment, Bryan would arrange with Foresters to delay his loan repayments, however each time he would promptly catch up with them once out of hospital.
Bryan would also arrange with his housekeeper to make his loan repayments and pay for other expenses. Unfortunately, in trusting this person to do the right thing he gave them $400 to pay off his loan and sadly this person went on a vacation with that money. Bryan learnt the hard way that he should only pay us directly. Bryan then arranged with us to extend the loan until such time that he could complete the loan.
After some great news on his cancer treatment success and some 12 months later, Bryan renovated his kitchen and also took the opportunity to renew all his small and other appliances. This time Foresters assisted Bryan with a No Fee and No Interest loan.
Shortly into this new loan Bryan’s illness returned. To avoid repayment issues, Bryan changed to a better bank account and arranged for the loan to remain in good standing, without reliance or ability of others to access that bank account for withdrawals.
Foresters Community Finance has been providing support to those in need for over 100 years. Bryan is one of many the customers that Foresters is able to provide with no or low interest loans to help them during times of need.
The Foresters and Cufa teams wish Bryan a speedy recovery.
Cufa acquired Foresters in mid-2019.
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.
Foresters Community Finance recently expanded its loans product suite with the launch of it’s new product – FreshPath. FreshPath offers cash loans of up to $4,000 for the times when people need extra cash fast for whatever reason.
Foresters launched FreshPath cash loans as a cost-effective alternative to the high-interest loans offered by pay-day lenders, where annual interest rates charged are often between 112% and 407.6%, with the majority tending to be at the higher end permissible under law. The difference with a FreshPath Cash Loan is the low establishment and monthly fees, along with the commitment and core belief that all lending should be responsible, fair and ethical.
The application process is quick and easy and all online. The cash loans are paid directly into a nominated bank account for fast and easy access as needed.
Cufa acquired Foresters, a long-standing a not-for-profit micro-loan organisation in July 2019. Cufa CEO, Dr Peter Mason then said about the amalgamation: “it is a union of two like-minded organisations, both having a strong social impact on economically disadvantaged individuals and communities through providing financial services and education with the aim of preventing people plunging into a spiralling cycle of debt.” Both organisations have a principle of helping people help themselves. Foresters is also a Certified B Corporation which means that it uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.