It has been thirteen months Sandar Nan joined the Shwe Taung Kyar Village Saving Bank in Kyar Chaung Village, Myanmar. Early in 2018, Cufa project officers from its Myanmar office came to Sandar’s village and began running financial knowledge sessions as part of its successful Credit Union Development (CUD) Program. Sandar attended the sessions and soon learnt about saving money and the benefits of such before then she did not know or understand what this could mean for her.
Sandar is 32 years old and lives with her parents, her father who is a planter and her mother, a housewife, and her younger brother and sister. She has been interested in agribusiness since she was 21 years old and for the past 11 years Sandar has been cultivating papaya and guava plants and generates profits from her plantation through the sale of her products. Sandar wanted to save some of her money but she just didn’t know how to start. It was not until Cufa came to her village to teach and share financial knowledge and understanding was the “savings seed” planted.
Sandar now knew what she had to do. She opened an account at her village bank and started saving some of her money that she earned from her agribusiness. By attending the Cufa financial knowledge sessions Sandar learnt how to calculate the interest on her savings and how to set savings goals. Sandar said that the feeling of happiness that she felt when she looked at her savings book encouraged to continue saving. In a short period, Sandar had built a strong savings habit and regularly deposited money in her account from her business earnings.
Not only did the sessions teach Sandar about savings but she continued to attend sessions regularly and learnt community audit skills, financial co-operative principles, leadership skills, how to record ledger books, how to calculate savings and loan interest. Sandar shared her new-found knowledge with her friends and neighbours and encouraged them to open accounts at the village savings bank. Through the sessions Sandar and other villagers became friends and would often discuss their business and the growth of such. They would also share the value of their village savings bank provides with friends from other villages.
The village savings bank provides members with the ability to apply for a loan. They must have made regular deposits to their account for at least 6 months to be able to submit a loan application. Sandar was able to apply for a loan which was approved as she had developed a strong savings habit. This loan enabled Sandar to grow her business through purchasing additional plants. She was able to repay her loan to her village bank through the additional profits she generated. Cufa planted the savings seed and Sandar cultivated it and continues to reap the benefits from the financial knowledge she gained through the Cufa program.
Read more about Cufa’s CUD Program at www.cufa.org.au/our-programs
This month Cufa is pleased to report that 14 village entrepreneurs supported by individual Community Investors in Australia, under Cufa’s Village Entrepreneur Program in Cambodia have reached sustainability with their businesses. Businesses ranging from pig, duck and chicken farmers to grocery sellers are now generating profits that enable them to run a viable business and help them change their circumstances for the better providing improvements to their house, affording education and health care for their children and being able to provide regular and better quality food for their families.
An example of the success of the Village Entrepreneur Program can be seen through Ratha Kung’s experience. Ratha is a 28-year-old Cambodian mother of two whose husband sadly passed way three years and now lives with her elderly parents. Ratha was a grocery seller earning around $4.50 a day as the family’s main income. In late December 2016, Ratha expressed the desire to participate in the Cufa program to help her develop the skills and knowledge to expand her grocery business to better support her family and give her children more opportunities in the future. Before the support of the Village Entrepreneur program, Ratha sold a small range of products. Today, she now sells a greater variety of products, and recently she has built a big new stall, and sells coffee and other drinks based on market demand. Ratha’s business income has been increasing over the past 3 years and she is now earning around US$ 823.20 a quarter. Ratha said that “I am happy that I now earn more money from my business and I have used the profits to pay for my family’s needs including building a sanitary toilet, making a vegetable garden to provide better quality food for us, constructing a fence around our house, purchasing stationery and new bikes for my children’s education.” Ratha added “it is with many thanks to the program and the support, that I am able to learn a lot of business skills and I am also happy to share this new knowledge and skills with other village entrepreneurs, and I am so proud now that my business now is built up well to support my family”.
Just like Ratha’s story, Cufa’s Village Entrepreneur program empowers rural villagers in Cambodia, who normally earn less than USD$2 a day, to build and manage a sustainable small business, usually within 3 years. The program encourages, people like yourselves to select a local villager from the profiles on our program website (www.ve.org.au) and commit support of $39 AUD a month. This support provides the training and education, monitoring, ongoing support and guidance from Cufa project officers, and financing that they need to establish, run and grow a profitable micro-business and contribute to the strengthening of their community’s micro-economy. They are also supported with a business plan and taught marketing skills along with financial skills like bookkeeping.
Many people from rural areas, for example, complement their existing skills and learn new techniques to become successful chicken, pig or vegetable farmers. Among other topics they learn about how to take care of their animals and vegetables, vaccination processes, and hygiene in their work areas. Other villagers choose to become tailors, hairdressers, bicycle repairers and many other occupations for which they receive specific training.
Through this program you can assist participants to be able to provide the essential services to their families such as healthcare, education for their children, sanitation, electricity and water; services that were not affordable for them before joining the program.
Support a village entrepreneur today, for only $39 a month you can make a positive impact that will be experienced for generations to come. Visit www.ve.org.au to find out more.
Chit Su is 8 years old and lives with her mother, father and brother in Myanmar. Her father is a farmer and though he doesn’t earn much to support his family, her parents give her some pocket money every day so that she can buy some good food to eat at school. But Chit Su would spend all her pocket money on buying dolls as like any other young girl she loved playing with them. Whenever she was free from her homework, she was usually playing with her dolls as she felt happy while she was playing them. She was always thinking of buying a new one even though she had already owned many dolls. Then just over one year ago Chit Su attended at her first Cufa financial literacy session and she has not bought another doll or toy since.
Chit Su is a very bright student and often stands first in her class. Her interest was sparked at her very first financial literacy lesson, after which she decided to attend the Cufa Children’s Financial Literacy (CFL) training sessions whenever the CFL teacher came to her village. To date she has attended financial literacy sessions 18 times and has acquired a lot of financial knowledge from Cufa booklet that is provided to each program participant.
Chit Su was so interested in the sessions and learning about savings and how to spend money that often she would choose to attend a session rather than play with her friends. It was on the day that she learnt about “saving money”, that Chit Su made up her mind to open a savings account at her village saving bank to enable her to save her pocket money regularly. The sessions also taught Chit Su about the difference of spending money on wants versus needs. Now Chit Su is content playing with the dolls and toys she already has rather than buying new ones with her pocket money.
The program has also taught Chit Su about developing short and long-term savings goals. Chit Su has set a long-term savings goal of funding her university education and this is now what she is saving regularly towards.
To read more about Cufa’s Children’s Financial Literacy Program go to www.cufa.org.au/our-programs
Cufa's Make A Difference Day (aka MAD Day) is usually aligned with the Anti-Poverty Week - a nationwide movement that is committed to raising awareness and helping those living in poverty. This year though we thought why not run it through until the end of October giving people more time to organise some fun.
MAD Day is all about celebrating the difference we can bring to those living in poverty. While the majority of people in the Asia-Pacific region live on just a few dollars a day, companies and individuals across Australia unite to lift these people from poverty and help them build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.
BankFirst got into the spirit and had a loud/colourful shirt day on Friday 18th October and ran a raffle with all money raised going to Cufa for MAD Day. The first prize was a day off work but Cufa was the real winner! Thanks to the team at BankFirst for your support!
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 email@example.com.
Khin Thandar is 8 years old and lives with her mother, father and brother 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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”.