Meeting Sokhean … Seven Years On

CWS Cambodia | February 17, 2018

Sokhean proudly sharing with us her success in her dessert business. Photo: CWS

CWS household partner, Veth Sokhean, is one of a surprisingly high 65% of women who run Cambodian businesses – many small and informal. She lives in Choam Ksant village in northern Cambodian with her husband Lum Loep, 33, and their three sons ages 13, 9 and 4. Loep is a wage laborer with low income due to the seasonal nature of his work, and the family often struggled to have enough to eat in the times he had no work at all.

Many years ago, CWS began working with the family to help them change their situation, and Sokhean was active in a variety of self-help activities in pursuit of their “family improvement goals”, which were agreed to when they became a CWS partner family. When Sokhean said she wanted to start her own business, she was advised to join a meeting about profitably poultry-raising, followed by a training about basic market analysis, and then marketing, for micro-business start-ups. After she completed these sessions, Sokhean also received six chickens to support her family with eggs for eating and selling, which would help her start her business with sales profits. Separately, she receives a $30 grant to start her ‘dream business’ – a noodle shop, which she knew from her research could do well. “I earned about $4 a day from selling noodle dishes, and the profit [after costs] was used to buy rice and support my children to go to school,” Sokhean told CWS team members who visited her recently to see how she and her family are doing – which is quite well!

Some years ago, seeing a gap in the market, Sokhean shifted from selling noodles to selling very popular local desserts, which sold well. Now Sokhean’s profits are almost $9 a day and she can save as much $750 annually now. Thinking about her success, Sokhean said, “I knew how to make these desserts, but I didn’t have the confidence to make them for a business because I thought, ‘I am really poor and people will not buy from me.’ But with learning from CWS-organized workshops, and with their support to build my confidence, I [proved myself wrong!]. My family now has enough to eat, I can send my sons to school and even manage to have some savings [to invest in more improvements to our house and business]”.

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