When Ang Mom was working in Sam Lout district of Battambang province near the border of Thailand in 2008, she was involved in a traumatic motor accident that left her disabled and unable to walk. This tragic event overturned her life.
“I could not walk for almost five years,” she said. “I could not work as hard and I could not earn as much.”
Faced with the high cost of medical treatment and the loss of a primary breadwinner, Mom and her husband, Aoum Tola, were forced to sell their farmland and migrate back to their home in Ta Our commune in Takeo province to pursue work as sesame and bean farmers.
When the mother of five returned to her commune, the financial difficulties continued as she could not work and lacked the financial capital to invest in new enterprises. At one point, she reached out to a local microfinance institution for assistance, only to be denied.
Unsure of her family’s future and seeing little hope to make ends meet, she was introduced to VisionFund through a local client service office in 2008. VisionFund Cambodia is a leading social microfinance provider that aims at helping to improve lives by offering small loans that empower families.
This time she qualified and received her first loan of $500 to continue farming while also purchasing 500 ducks to raise and sell. However, with no experience in duck farming, this decision proved to be a disaster.
“My first loan was lost because my duck farm did not operate very well,” she said, adding that she lost $5,000 of estimated profit on the venture as she helped raise the ducks from birth to maturity, with them eventually all succumbing to disease. She considers this her second biggest failure in life after the motor accident, both of which pulled her family deeper into poverty.
Desperate and with little hope, Mom explained how she regained her dignity after World Vision taught her how to make banana chips and raise pigs. With her second loan of $500, granted in 2009, she was capable of purchasing pigs and could afford to hire local villagers to help harvest rice on her land.
Eventually in 2013, as her injuries finally healed, she was strong enough to return to the fields and began farming mushrooms in earnest.
“For me mushrooms are not difficult to grow. I spent about $100 to invest and can now earn easily,” before adding that now she has an annual income of around $750.
At the age of 61, after finally being able to put all the skills learned through VisionFund into practice, she received her final loan of $1000. With that loan, she purchased the necessary equipment to support her youngest daughter’s cosmetic business, which she operates near a garment factory in the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
Kou Sarim, the 23-year-old daughter, said that being a cosmetic supplier has given her family a better life. “Here I can earn around $15 to $20 a day,” she said.
Between 2008 and 2015, Mom received six annual microfinance loans that ensured her family’s financial security. While she continues to save and invest in her daughter’s business, she also sells her produce at a local market near a garment factory.
“I am grateful to have received loans for my financial needs from the very beginning of VisionFund’s seven year loan cycle,” she said, adding that it has taught her that the impossible is possible.