Pisey Chhom is a fifteen year old girl living in Svay Rieng province. She has been lucky enough to learn a range of financial literacy skills in a fun and engaging way through Cufa’s Children’s Financial Literacy program. Pisey hopes she can use her knowledge from the program to help her achieve her goal of reaching university!
She is part of a large family with two brothers and a sister along with her parents who work selling groceries in their store. Pisey is currently studying in grade eleven at her local high school which is a ten minute bicycle ride from her house. The dream Pisey currently has is to become an engineer and thus she is studying all science related subjects as part of her education.
Previously, Pisey paid little attention to saving her money. She received a small allowance of 1000 riels ($0.35) a day to take to school. This would usually be spent on snacks or toys as Pisey have any savings goals. She started working with her parents in their store and began to notice how hard they would work. In addition to working at the stall, her parents also sold much of their produce at the markets including the chickens and pigs that they farm.
Four years ago Pisey joined the Children’s Financial Literacy program and learnt a range of savings skills that will help her later in life. She asked her mother to buy her a piggy bank which she started using religiously. Now Pisey earns more money thanks to her work tutoring younger students and busking. She is able to use the savings skills that she learnt from Cufa project officers and has been able to save up for some new stationery and study material for school and even a bicycle.
“My father encouraged me to save after reading the program workbooks and even empowered me by opening an account with our local credit union to help.” Pisey described. She now has over $650 saved in this account and everyone in the family has opened one.
Pisey’s father had to say of her journey, “I hope the money she saves every day will help her to study and in reaching university and achieving her big dream.
Cufa’s Children’s Financial Literacy program has taught over 100,000 disadvantaged students across Cambodia and Myanmar about developing improved savings habits in a fun and engaging way.
Cufa’s LEED program teaches disadvantaged rural villagers business skills, with a focus on businesses for people with disabilities. Thanks to the program, Meun Ith has been able to build a successful motorbike repairs business completely changing his life.
Meun grew up in rural Cambodia and stopped studying at a young age to help his parents work. Unfortunately, when Meun was young a tree fell on him, breaking his leg and leaving him with a lifelong disability. He now lives in Kompong Chhang province, central Cambodia with his wife and two sons.
Due to his limited education, Meun was working as a mechanic earning a modest income. He had the opportunity to learn some skills in this position, however, he lacked the crucial business knowledge to make more money from these skills.
Meun started his small motorbike repair business in April 2018. He did this with a small plot of land and an initial investment of $500. While first starting his business he encountered many challenges such as having no budget and lacking the proper electronic tools.
Meun joined Cufa’s LEED program shortly after and was selected as a target beneficiary for the program. This allowed him to receive special training and business consultation. Hence, Meun was able to develop a business work plan and gain skills in many business concepts. He also received new electronic tools from the program. The business began to grow very quickly due to this help, as did Meun’s confidence.
Currently, Meun is earning around $8 a day from his business, managing to save around $3 of this. Moreover, he has been able to budget wisely for his daily expenses like food, but his most important cost is his son's education. His improving business has led to a much better living standard. Looking towards the future, Meun would like to extend his store and start selling beverages as well for extra income.
He had to say, “I want to thank Cufa so much for providing significant support to my business in the community”
As a man who could not read or write and lacked the critical skills to find employment, Chek Chin was struggling to make ends meet with his family. Basic necessities like food, healthcare and his children’s education were an ongoing struggle until he found out about Cufa’s Village Entrepreneur program.
It all started when he noticed his neighbour’s chicken farming business excelling. His neighbour was a participant in Cufa’s Village Entrepreneur program. This led Chek to go to his local community-owned bank to sign up for sponsorship.
Initially, Chek started off the program by setting up a chicken farm. However, once he had developed his chicken farm, he started a second business building and selling cement stairways. This business was very successful because of the large amount of raised houses in Cambodia.
Recently, Chek was determined to have a sustainable business by Cufa project officers. Throughout the program, Cufa project officers gave Chek assistance and guidance, with quarterly field trips to see successful businesses, one-on-one support and more. Thanks to this, Chek not only was able to learn how to make good quality stairs and effectively farm chickens but also gained a strong understanding of market assessments, business admin and chicken food production.
Chek now has a quarterly income of $943.74 but that did not come without challenges. Throughout the program, his biggest challenge was the competition from other local chicken farms. However, starting a second business to differentiate helped his income. Additionally, consistently promoting his business and maintaining customer relationships meant that this issue was easily overcome.
He had to say to his sponsor, “Many thanks, I appreciate your kind support. My businesses have developed well and I now have a great workplace. I now have enough cement stairways, chickens and materials to sustain my family and businesses in the long-term.”
Sam Pholirak is a young boy living in Cambodia who had not developed very good spending habits. He often asked his parents for money to take to school and spent it on toys, snacks and other small items without knowing how hard his parents worked to make their money. After attending Cufa’s Children’s Financial Literacy program he has improved savings habits and gained a better appreciation for the hard work of his parents.
Sam lives in Boeng Village, Svay Rieng Province, Cambodia with his family – his parents, two siblings and aunt. He is currently studying in Grade 7 at the local secondary school and his put little thought towards his future. His parents work as farmers, growing rice, chickens and pigs, earning enough to save a small amount each month.
He did not know the value of money and wasn’t aware of needing it for emergencies. Sam’s aunt had previously given him 4000 riels ($1.36) a week to take to school. She said “I am now 56 and am beginning to develop health problems so I cannot work as much. I am on the committee for our local community-owned bank so could suggest for him to open a bank account.”
2015 was when Sam first received his Children’s Financial Literacy education. He asked his mother if she could buy him a piggy bank to start using to commit to his savings. It wasn’t long before Sam had saved up enough money to buy himself a bicycle. “After I learnt about savings at school and showed my aunt the lesson book she was very encouraging and now I have saved for a bike,” Sam said.
His mother continues to give her children 2000 riel ($0.68) to take to school as pocket money. She encourages them to save as much as they can. “I want Sam to finish university, so I always encourage him to study hard. I hope the money he saves every day will help him to achieve this goal,” she describes.
Sam is now very optimistic about the future. His ability to create savings goals and knowledge of financial literacy has given him more independence and increased his interest in his education.
Cufa’s Children’s Financial Literacy program teaches disadvantaged students across Cambodia and Myanmar about developing improved savings habits in a fun and engaging way.
Cufa’s team has recently made a field trip in Myanmar to Pa Tauk Tan Village in Taik Kyi Township to visit and assist participants of our Credit Union Development project.
The program is initially set up within a community signing people up to a community-owned bank to gain financial access. Following this, the program looks at increasing the member’s financial education. This is achieved via a range of methods such as bookkeeping training and learning about loans and interest.
Once the program is established, smaller livelihood projects are delivered to improve the living standard of the local communities. All of the pictured participants below are members of their local community-owned bank. They are working in Roselle fields picking and packaging it to be sent to the markets for sale.
The Cufa team members field trip in Myanmar provided a learning experience for both themselves and the participants. They assisted and encouraged participants to build a deeper engagement with the program. At the same time, they gained a better understanding of the living conditions of the participants and their types of work.
The program fosters independence within disadvantaged communities. It provides the tools for people to break the cycle of poverty through businesses and financial access. The program makes a life-changing difference by encouraging locals to work hard, spend wisely and by encouraging them to learn.
Roselle is an extremely common farming plant in rural Myanmar. It is the most widely eaten and popular vegetable in the country. Its uses vary but the most popular include in curries and soups. Other uses of roselle include the making of jam and tea from the flowers and in salads as the leaves are used as a spicy equivalent to spinach.
The Credit Union Development program targets disadvantaged communities in the rural areas of Cambodia and Myanmar. It provides financial access and education and consequently makes a massive difference to the lives of people within these communities.
Find out more about Cufa is providing financial access with the Credit Union Development program.
The Female Financial Empowerment program was started in Myanmar using concepts from our Credit Union Development program. The aim of the program is to develop financial empowerment for women in rural areas and provide essential financial services.
Women in rural villages are empowered through support and education, this comes in the form of self-help groups. Participants are also provided access to financial services such as loans and savings account and taught business skills.
The program is currently operating in three rural villages in Myanmar, Tha Yet Chaung, Suk Su and Ywar Tan Shae Sout Win Gyi.
We recently spoke with Daw Kyi Pyar about her experience gaining financial empowerment in the program.
Daw Kyi, tell us a bit about yourself? I am 38 years old, living in Tha Yet Chaung Village with my husband and my young son.
What was your situation like before you joined the program? I didn’t know much about the importance of money before Cufa came to my village. I didn’t know why I should be saving and what I should be saving for.
How has your life changed since you joined the program? Since I joined my local community-owned bank in 2016 I have been constantly saving. I was able to take out a loan and use it for my business – a grocery store. I am now seeing the benefits as the profits from my store have been increasing steadily.
How else are you getting involved? I have attended all the training sessions provided by Cufa staff. They teach about savings, loans and more. It makes finance easy to understand for most households. On top of this, I convey the good news about my self-help group to my village and help explain to other villagers the benefits of savings.
Thanks for sharing with us Daw Kyi!
The Female Financial Empowerment program provides an opportunity for women in rural areas to collaborate and access a support group. Subsequently, financial empowerment for women is built through access to financial services, education and support but primarily also by coming together as a collective.