The timely arrival of an interest-free loan is to help grocer Brak Lim heang keep providing for her customers in her neighbourhood in Phnom Penh's Meanchey district despite seasonal supply challenges.
The innovative businesswoman is already strategising her business for the sweltering hot and drenched rainy seasons – stocking up on essential goods to help her business thrive and ensure there is enough stock for her regular customers.
Sovannaphum Life Assurance Plc's funding for women entrepreneurs – the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) project for this year – has come at a crucial time for Limheang, who plans to use the capital to invest in additional inventory to allow for changes in season.
Limheang is a determined entrepreneur, one who refused to give up even after her laundry and spa businesses folded during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Instead, she went on to start a grocery store that promotes products made in the Kingdom, particularly the honey popular among her customers that she procures from Mondulkiri – the Cambodian province renowned for its wild honey.
“The interest-free micro-loan project is really good for me during this hot season. I can stock up on goods for almost one year with the $300 loan as prices are cheaper now than during the rainy season.
"And as it is an interest-free loan, I will also be able to make some profits,” said an enthusiastic Limheang, 39.
She is one of the five recipients chosen by Sovannaphum Life for its CSR project –which is funding women entrepreneurs operating small-scale businesses –run in collaboration with Lady Saving Group, part of the non-profit organisation Women Entrepreneurs Act.
“It is exciting to see that more and more women are taking the leap into the business world even with limited financial resources or experience.
"Our CSR project’s goal is to inspire these women entrepreneurs, and we hope with our small financial support they can become prosperous entrepreneurs and enjoy financial security,” said Sovannaphum Life CEO Loke Kah Meng.
Sovannaphum Life began its CSR campaign by sponsoring the "2023 Women Run 10K” held on International Women’s Day on March 8.
Themed "Women in Leadership", the run was organised by the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, with Sovannaphum Life pledging to contribute 4,000 riel for each registered runner to fund its CSR initiative.
Around 1,600 runners took part in the 10km run that started in front of Wat Botumvotey Park in central Phnom Penh, while families and children enjoyed a 4km fun run.
Sovannaphum Life is allocating $2,000 for the CSR project, of which $500 will be given to Lady Saving Group to finance its activities, with five businesswomen each receiving $300 in interest-free loans.
The zero-interest loan will be channelled through Lady Saving Group with the money repaid within 10 months. The capital will then be distributed to other deserving businesswomen.
“Sovannaphum Life’s CSR project can be a catalyst for the development of women entrepreneurs who support our economy.
"They bring many benefits to our society, create jobs, break the poverty cycle, become role models and provide leadership in their local communities,” said Virak Bonnarath, Lady Saving Group Co-Founder and Strategy and Programme Manager.
Sovannaphum Life is offering special discounts of up to 20 per cent for its premier product – SMILE Life Solutions – for those who participated in the "2023 Women Run 10K”.
This offer is valid until March 31, 2023.