Stories of Change

Sokhean confidently makes desserts to sell.

CWS programs in Cambodia reached 21,373 individuals in 83 communities last year.

Source: CWS Annual Report 2017

Research, analysis and hard work mean hundreds of dollars in savings annually for this mom in Cambodia

Veth Sokhean, runs her own business. Surprisingly, 65 percent of Cambodian businesses – many small and informal – are run by women.

Sokhean 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 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 received 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. 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 have 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]”.