By Chanratana Som, CUFA Cambodia Country Program Manager
“There’s always a lot of enthusiasm for the study tours, the Village Entrepreneurs are so excited to meet other Village Entrepreneur’s and to learn new ways to operate their small businesses or different animal raising techniques”.
The ultimate goal of the Village Entrepreneur program is to provide the opportunity for a credit union member in rural Cambodia or Timor-Leste to start or expand a micro-enterprise and generate an income to help lift their family out of poverty.
Through the generosity of Community Investors, the Village Entrepreneurs receive financial support as well as business skills training, an important part of the program to ensure that their micro-enterprise becomes sustainable within a three year time frame.
One of the best ways that Village Entrepreneurs can learn new skills is to learn from each other. With many of our Village Entrepreneur’s running similar small businesses, we’ve introduced study tours. These are a unique opportunity for Village Entrepreneur’s to visit other entrepreneurs in their region to share ideas, contacts and techniques.
Last month, CUFA together with the Farming Development Association of Kampong Seong, Prey Veng province, Cambodia held a study tour for 16 Village Entrepreneur’s and three local credit union staff to visit Mr. Oeung Seng, successful pig raiser and recently graduated Village Entrepreneur.
Village Entrepreneurs love to participate in these tours, explains CUFA Village Entrepreneur Coordinator, Tola. “There’s always a lot of enthusiasm, the Village Entrepreneurs are so excited to meet other Village Entrepreneur’s and to learn new ways to operate their small businesses or different animal raising techniques”.
For the Village Entrepreneur’s it’s an opportunity to swap ideas on which food is best for pigs, for example organic versus processed. “As part of their quarterly training we show them videos and demonstrations of how to build a good pig pen or chicken coop. We teach them how to clean the pig pens, to shower them regularly and to keep the pens and coops clean” explains Tola.
The recent study tour provided an opportunity for current Village Entrepreneurs to visit a graduated Village Entrepreneur, who is now quite a skillful pig raiser.
“I really enjoy the tour. I have connected with other Village Entrepreneurs as well. I now understand how to build a solid and longer lasting pig pen, how to choose good pigs to minimize disease and sickness, and how to make healthy pig food”, said Ms. Samorn Chea a Village Entrepreneur participant.
The study tours are also an opportunity for graduated Village Entrepreneurs to help others in their community and to share their knowledge and experience.
“I am happy to be able to share my own experience to those participants. Never before did I think that it is such helpful. I could also help some poor villagers just by doing this,” said graduate VE Mr. Oeung Seng.
CUFA is looking to expand the study tour program to provide more Village Entrepreneurs the opportunities to participate, with 20 Village Entrepreneurs from Brachak, Kampong Chhnang visiting a chicken raiser next month.