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Centre aims to bolster women entrepreneurship

A women’s entrepreneurship centre opened its doors in Phnom Penh on Friday, providing a platform for Cambodian women to access the tools and resources needed to start or grow a sustainable business.

The WECREATE Cambodia Center supports female entrepreneurs by connecting them to a network of mentors who can advise on and support the development of their small businesses.

The tailored mentoring aims at empowering aspiring and existing female business owners, helping them to move from the informal sector into the formal sector and improving their economic and social status.

According to Chan Davy, executive director of WECREATE Cambodia, the donor-funded centre is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia.

Its startup accelerator program provides 15 weeks of free mentoring and business training to help female entrepreneurs launch or expand their business startup.

The centre also holds business training workshops and educational courses.

“Often a woman has a business dream and commitment, but doesn’t know where to begin,” Davy said. “We will work with her, showing her how to start.

The most important thing is that we stay with her from the beginning until the business is up and running.”

She said the program aims to help participants overcome the challenges to women entrepreneurship, such as lack of confidence or insufficient capital.

Present at the centre’s opening, 21-year-old Kim Lina, a fresh graduate with a degree in accounting, said that she hopes to run her own business someday.

“I’m glad to have someone who will support me and help me succeed,” she said of the mentor program. “I hope WECREATE will also provide me with business ideas.”

Sok Channda, president of Internet service provider MekongNet, joined WECREATE Cambodia as one of the program’s business mentors.

“I started a business alone so I know how difficult it can be,” she said, “I want to share my business experience with those who need support [starting up their own enterprise.]”

WECREATE is public-private partnership between the US State Department’s bureau of economic and business affairs and the StartUp Cup global accelerator program.

The program launched its first women’s entrepreneurship centres in Pakistan and Zambia last year.

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