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Women get fresh start with loans

Women get fresh start with loans

KOMPONG CHAM-For 63-year-old Chea Nan, a loan from the ILO's Cambodia Employment

Generation Program has meant a new start in life.

Akromah weaver since she was 13, she lost most of her family over the last

two decades. She survived by selling kromahs to a middleman for 200 riels each

after he supplied cotton.

Unhappy with such a small return for her work,

she acted after hearing of the program last year.

She walked the 10 km

from her Dambong Daek village to Kompong Cham town to the offices of the

Association of Cambodian Local Economic Development Agencies (Acleda), a Khmer

NGO implementing the program.

Acleda gave her a $120 loan so she could

buy her own cotton and set up in business herself.

She now sells her

kromahs herself at 400 riels each, and has also learned how to weave mosquito

nets, blankets and sarongs.

Nan is typical of the program's 7,000

beneficiaries - women are one of the main target groups.

Like weaving,

the food processing industry is dominated by women, some of whom have been

taking advantage of the program. Women have been helped to go it alone in areas

such as mushroom and fish cultivation, the making of soy sauce and incense

sticks.

Most women get loans of between $100 to $300 to expand their

work or make them more independent.

Women are also going into

non-traditional fields like Chong Thnal, 48, who runs a carpentry business in

Choun Seng , Kompong Cham.

A $250 loan for wood and equipment now helps

this widow, who learnt carpentry from her husband, support five children.

Heng Sovanna is even more unusual - she's a brick maker.

Standing in a large thatched shed full of bricks and tiles, Sovanna

nurses her two-year-old child as she told how she learnt her trade from her

father. She now makes up to 20,000 bricks and 60,000 tiles monthly.

Her

factory, which employs 30 workers, was helped by a $980 loan from Acleda. With

two kilns, Sovanna says she now makes a $400 monthly profit.

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