Today, Thavry, 5, and Thavreak, 8, are like many other young children in their village who receive nutritious food, receive good care from their parents, Savy and Sreymach, and go to school.
“Before we did not have enough money to buy food for the children,” said their mother, Sreymach.
A community group called Agriculture Cooperative (AC) was formed in early 2013, an initiative of World Vision Cambodia who provided start-up support. A group of 204 members from seven villages have now generated revenue of $53,150 USD.
Six main businesses provide stability for the group: Supplying fertilizer, oil, rice bran, piglet feed, and drinking water, plus providing loan services. Members have shares invested in these businesses activities through the co-op. The businesses have been running smoothly and producing profits.
The profits are then distributed to share owners, which provides them with capital they can reinvest in business or put into social activities.
In 2014, every member made a profit of 31,200 riel ($7.80 USD) per share.
Savy has 60 shares in the group. “After taking part in the AC group, we are able to support children to have enough food. We have knowledge to work and earn money to buy bicycles, books and pens for the children for school,” said the father of Thavry and Thavreak.
The committee of Rolous Meas AC learned from World Vision to do record keeping, how to manage the AC, how to facilitate the community, and how to better help one another.
Savy has improved his technical understanding of rearing pigs and his rice yield. He used a loan from the AC to invest in fertilizer, petrol, and increase the number of pigs.
“Before I harvest 3,000 kilograms per hectare. After using the loan from AC, I increased the yield of my rice to 5,000 – 6,000 kilograms. And before, I reared only one pig. I used the loan to increase the number of piglets in order to increase my income,” says Savy.
The AC group members says that trying to get private sector loans takes so long, and they end up with high interest. In contrast, with a loan from the group, the interest comes back to the shareholders and also contributes to community development projects.
“I want to see AC become a bank and I want to see young generation be able to handle this job and business for the community,” says Savy. “I dream that the AC will build a strong business network and become independently controlled by our community.”
“Without the organization [World Vision] and AC, I would be like a turtle in a well. I would have not opportunity to learn about outside [community] especially leadership skills,” says Savy. “Without the organization, my living condition would be affected because of ignorance. I would not know about earning income and saving.”
Grant Project Name: Cambodia Sustainable Business Development
Funded by: Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) - Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) and Thank You Group
Time frame: 01 October 2014 - 30 June 2019
Purpose and Objective: Agriculture Cooperative members from 168 Agriculture Cooperatives will have improved livelihood for well-being of their children in nine target provinces by 2019. The ultimate goal of the project is contribute to the improvement of child wellbeing through improved livelihood of poor and vulnerable households. The main child wellbeing outcome that the project will contribute to is ‘Parents or caregivers provide well for their children’ and ‘Adolescents are ready for economic opportunity’.
1. Agriculture Cooperatives have strong governance and leadership with transparency and prosperity
2. Agriculture Cooperatives are sustainable and have profitable businesses
3. Agriculture Cooperative Union and network strengthened to improve business performance and functionality of Agriculture Cooperatives.