Houn Phally, who grew up watching her father run his handmade shoes business, decided to follow in his footsteps by starting her own such enterprise in Kandal province.
Drawing inspiration from her father's success, the enterprising mother-of-two launched Khmer Corp, which makes quality men’s and women's footwear for the local market and sold online.
"My father was well-known in the community for his handcrafted shoes, and I was so disappointed when he closed down his shop.
"Having learned to make shoes from my father and by watching YouTube videos, I decided to carry on his legacy," said the 32-year-old Phally.
The self-made businesswoman has been funding her venture using her savings and with a bank loan.
Her success story piqued the interest of Sovannaphum Life and Lady Saving Group, who teamed up to assist.
Sovannaphum Life and Lady Saving Group are providing zero-interest loans to five female micro-entrepreneurs as part of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) project launched this year, with Phally the fourth recipient.
Sovannaphum Life, with its financial strength and trust, started 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, and Sovannaphum Life has pledged to contribute 4,000 riel for each registered runner to fund its CSR initiative.
Around 1,600 runners took part in the 10km early-morning run that started in front of Wat Botumvotey Park in central Phnom Penh, while there was a shorter 4km fun run for families and children.
"We recognise that financing women entrepreneurs can create a great multiplier effect, as it will empower them and bring tremendous benefits to the local economy and society.
“With the right support, womenbusiness leaders are capable of bringing changes at the grassroots level by creating jobs," said Sovannaphum Life CEO Loke Kah Meng.
Sovannaphum Life has teamed up with Lady Saving Group, part of the non-profit organisation Women Entrepreneurs Act, to support women in business.
Sovannaphum Life will allocate $2,000 for the CSR project, of which $500 will be given to Lady Saving Group to finance its ongoing activities, while the selected businesswomen will each receive $300 in interest-free loans.
The loan has to be repaid within 10 months,with the money to be redistributed to other self-starters like Phally.
"I am delighted that Lady Saving Group is offering me an interest-free loan because it will give me some financial stability.
"I can use the money to buy extra raw materials to increase my shoe production.
"My ambition is to market my handmade goods all over Cambodia,” said Phally, who operates from her house in Khsach Kandal district's Prek Krobao III village with four members of staff.
Lady Saving Group is working towards improving the welfare of women entrepreneurs by conducting regular training programmes on leadership, entrepreneurship, mentoring and financial literacy.
"Private sector participation is much needed to bring resources and financial support to further strengthen women’s participation in the economy.
"Its involvement is a big step forward for self-employed women who are often left to take financial risks on their own," said Lady Saving Group co-founder and strategy and programme manager Virak Bonnarath.
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 "2023Women Run 10K”.
This offer is valid until March 31, 2023.