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 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.
Australian international aid and development not-for-profit organisation, Cufa Limited, today announced that it has merged with the Foresters Group, a not-for-profit micro-loan organisation providing emergency finance at a competitive rate for low-income households as a more affordable alternative to high-cost payday lenders.
Cufa, established in 1971 has been providing programs in Asia-Pacific with a focus on development in micro-enterprise, employment, financial literacy and establishing community-led financial institutions ensuring financial inclusion for those excluded from mainstream financial institutions. With the amalgamation of Foresters, Cufa’s CEO Dr Peter Mason explained “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.”
It is intended that Foresters will continue to operate under its name as it is well-respected in the market.
Foresters seeks to provide affordable small loans to the high number of households struggling financially due to the high cost of living and low wage growth which has dramatically increased over the years. According to the Australian Senate Report, released in February 2019, about 2.1 million Australians today are under severe or high financial stress living day-to-day, and almost half of Australians are living pay-to-pay with many people not able to afford unexpected financial emergencies. The report further stated that low financial literacy among consumers is an issue and many are unaware or have limited awareness of other product options.
The Report states that payday lenders charge annual interest rates of between 112.1 per cent and 407.6 per cent, with the majority tending to charge the maximum permitted by legislation. Dr Mason confirmed that “Foresters is committed to responsible lending and will continue to provide low-cost, fairer alternative loan products to the disadvantaged than that of the high-cost payday lenders.” The Report supports the provision of alternative financial products such as those that Foresters provides and recognises these could have far reaching benefits for financially stressed Australians and that the provision of these has scope for expansion in Australia. “We will be focussed on growing our product and service suite to provide further options to those who need us, including additional low-cost timely lending solutions, to ease the financial burden and improve their ability to manage financially”, he added.
Cufa’s Chair, Margot Sweeny OAM commented “as an organisation whose vision it is to alleviate poverty through financial education and financial inclusion we felt that this acquisition provides us with the ability to reach out to the many Australians suffering financial hardship and provide a pathway to financial stability”.
Foresters recent past Chair, Mr Paul Keehan said that the Foresters Board welcomed the merger of the two organisations and is confident that together the organisations will work to reduce financial exclusion of vulnerable Australians. He also sees this merger as an example of what should be happening more in the not-for-profit space – organisations with similar purpose joining to provide greater synergies and therefore concentrating more resources to delivering on their purpose.
Dr Peter Mason
0418 481 058
Director of Marketing and Fundraising, Cufa
Cufa is an Australian government-accredited not-for-profit international development agency committed to alleviating poverty across the Asia-Pacific. Cufa currently works in Cambodia, Myanmar, Timor-Leste and the greater Pacific. Cufa creates infinite value by reaching over 4 million people each year through grassroots programs focusing on education, enterprise, employment and economic institutions.
Foresters Group is an Australian for-purpose finance company - a fully integrated investment and finance intermediary that applies the mechanisms of the economy: finance, investment, asset ownership, to help people and communities to help themselves.
Foresters Group was advised by InterFinancial Corporate Finance and McCullough Robertson.
Foresters l www.foresters.org.au l 375 Wickham Tce, Spring Hill, QLD 4000 Australia LinkedIn: Foresters Group
The Female Financial Empowerment program was started by Cufa in rural Myanmar to improve the financial education of women and improve their access to financial services and education. Women are able to not only develop their financial knowledge but also improve their business and encourage their community to be involved.
We discussed the importance of financial access with Daw Hla Mon Win and this is what she had to say!
To start off with can you tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from?
Hi. My name is Daw Hla Mon Win. I am 31 years old and have two children. We live in Inn Yet Gyi Village with my husband. We own a grocery store and have also recently been able to start farming animals thanks to Cufa’s program.
Why did you join Cufa’s program? What was your situation like before?
I didn’t know much about saving and how important it can be before the Cufa team arrived in my village. I didn’t know why I should be saving and what I should be saving for.
What was the change you noticed after you first joined the program?
After I joined my local community-owned bank as a member I attended some training and have been saving since June 2016. Now I always see my saving amount and the interest in my saving passbook which make me very happy.
How is your situation different now?
Now I am much more clear on the savings process and profits of saving. I can also explain to others in my village about saving, encouraging them to get in the savings habit.
When did you notice all this change taking place?
In June 2016 I joined the community-owned bank with some other villagers after it was established here. We wanted to be a part of owning it and have access to saving.
Have you made a contribution to the project?
I have worked with the bank which makes me happy. I also convey the news from it to other villagers and explain the benefits of saving.
Chenda Yet is 51 years old and lives in Srae Uk Village, Kampong Chhnang Province. Chenda dropped out of school during grade eight to help her parents with rice farming and also due to the financial situation of their family. Married in 1991, she has four sons. In addition to rice farming, she also raises chickens to earn more income while her husband works building houses. However, her income is still very low and not enough for her whole family. That was until she joined Cufa's LEED program.
Chenda’s business, a chicken farm, began without having a business plan and was not doing well. She first raised them traditionally as a family with five hen species. After attending the training, her idea had completely changed and she started building her chicken coop, sized 4m X 5m.
With her frequent involvement in the program, she has attended capacity building training, micro-enterprise training and received consultations on how to improve her business. After developing a business plan with the help of Cufa staff, Chenda was trained on market strategy and provided materials and chickens for raising. Until now, Chenda has totally raised 200 chickens.
Her business grows steadily and as a result, in March 2019 she had 40 chickens for food for her daughter’s wedding that cost an estimated 832,000 riels ($208). Since her business has significantly improved, her living conditions have also gradually improved. Her neighbour is also very interested in learning from her business success and she has shared knowledge with five people in her village.
Chenda now has enough confidence after learning life-changing skills in the program and is looking at building another, larger business in the future. She would like to increase how many chickens she is raising and grow more vegetables for her family’s food consumption.
Last but not least, Chenda is very thankful for the program and the significant support providing materials, chicken seed and also business skills.
Chanvicheka Sek or Vicheka as her friends know her is a ten years old girl living in the Svay Rieng Province of Cambodia. She wants to be a doctor in the future and is very serious about her education thanks to Cufa's Children's Financial Literacy program. Nowadays, she lives with her grandparents and brother while her parents work in Phnom Penh. Her father works as a Tuk Tuk driver and her mother works in a garment factory. Her father comes home during the harvesting season for their family’s farming activities, but her mother only comes back during special occasions such Khmer New Year.
Vicheka is lucky enough to get a small amount of pocket money daily from her grandmother which she often used to spend on candy, toys, food or other things. She did not know how difficult it was for her grandmother to earn that money that was given. Both Vicheka and her grandparents depend on the money that her parents earn in Phnom Penh.
Before attending the Children’s Financial Literacy program, Vicheka did not know about developing savings habits and her grandmother would always tell her, “I don’t have much money, so I give her around 500 or 1000 riel ($0.18-0.35) per day,” she said. “I am 69 now and can’t work, we depend on Vicheka’s parents who regularly transfer money for us,” she continued. When Vicheka gets money for school she spends all of it because she views it as such a small amount of money and some of her friends spend much more than her so she never bothered saving it.
A few years ago, Vicheka received financial literacy training from Cufa through her schooling. After attending the program, she started saving some of her money in a piggy bank and told her grandparents, “It is important to save some of our money so we can use it in case of an emergency.” After this, Vicheka also went to open a savings account with her local community-owned bank. Her grandfather, who already had an account, was more than happy to help her.
Now Vicheka manages to save around 5,000 riel ($1.75) each month and all up has around 90,000 riel ($31.65) saved. Every day after school she helps her grandmother to wash dishes and clothes. She works hard with her study. She spends her free time reading books. She would like to finish high school and become a doctor and she hopes her savings could help her achieve her goal.