How Investment Enables Inclusion for Women

Written by
Eryn Austin-Bergen
Published on
March 20, 2024 at 3:53:21 PM PDT March 20, 2024 at 3:53:21 PM PDTth, March 20, 2024 at 3:53:21 PM PDT

Together, Seng and her husband are building a strong future for their children.

Family separation is a terrible thing, and it becomes even more painful when it could have been avoided. 

Seng and her husband, Loem, were forced to migrate from their rural Cambodian community of Thmei to another province in search of work. Their rice and cassava farm wasn’t producing enough to support their family and there weren’t other income options.

Against her mother’s instinct, Seng left her son and daughter in the care of their widowed grandmother. She didn’t feel it was safe to leave them in such a vulnerable position, but she didn’t have a choice. 

They found basic labour jobs—Loem in construction and Seng at a casino.   

Seng shares both their success and their struggle: “I could make a living…but it was not enough to sustain my family because I did not understand how to manage my entire income in the family.”

Even when they pulled in enough cash, Seng didn’t have access to basic financial education to know how to stretch it to meet their needs. 

When they returned to Thmei, Seng found a new opportunity had come to their community. FH Cambodia was offering a variety of workshops and helping to organize Savings and Loans groups. Joining a group gave Seng access to knowledge and skills she’d never before been offered. And access gave her options.

A loan as small as $150 was enough to enable Seng to launch this successful family business.

“[Being] involved with FH as a savings group member, it is more convenient for me to use loans. …Moreover, I have learned from the savings group how to manage income and expenses, and my family budget.”

One of Seng’s efforts to create income for her family had been a small grocery shop, which offered household basics so people wouldn’t have to trek to a major town to get their day-to-day needs. But it had never really taken off. 

Seng explains, “I did not have enough money to run the grocery shop. I did not have many materials to sell, which caused me to have less income and low benefits."

With a little bit of education and access to a small loan, Seng’s savings group made it possible for her to get her dream off the ground. 

“[Members] can use loans from their savings groups to start up or extend their businesses,” Seng says. “The savings group supported me through [an] FH Cambodia loan of $150 USD for 18 months without interest to start up my [grocery store] business in 2022. This small business capital start-up loan helps me run my grocery shop. I increased my grocery supplies through using the loan and I can now get between $175 to $200 per day with the [profit of] approximately $25 per day.” 

When Seng got access to financial literacy training, she quickly got her family budget in order and made her store turn a profit. 

Today, this store is her family’s main source of income, followed by continued income from rice and cassava farming. In addition, Seng learned how to raise chickens. After her training, FH gave her starter chickens and feeding equipment, along with follow-up support from FH community workers. And she’s making that profitable, too!

Seng and Loem are now able to fully support their two children, and be home to parent and protect them, too. 

“I feel very happy with what I have received from FH Cambodia. My whole family is living in better conditions and increasing our knowledge on health care, agriculture, and saving money. Now I can make a budget plan for the family that follows savings group lessons. My family is living together with happiness!” she beams.

Other residents of Thmei have also benefited from FH partnership—many families have increased their household income by raising chickens, ducks, and cows.  

Seng and Loem’s relationships with their neighbours have improved, too—they communicate more and are able to share food and even money when needed. 

Seng’s business not only benefits her family, it also provides access to food and household goods to her neighbours. Now they don’t have to travel to town every time they need a cup of sugar, saving them valuable transportation fees.

“I feel more comfortable communicating in my community [now] and safe when my community members build trust and share new knowledge with each other,” Seng shares. “In the future I want to see myself increase in knowledge, be brave and actively engage with my community, and have time with my children.” 

By including women like Seng in opportunities to grow their knowledge, realize their goals, and raise their children, FH Cambodia is empowering them to help lift their communities out of poverty.

You can help another family like Seng’s launch a business to support their children, and community.

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