This March, members of TGF’s Board of Trustees visited Chi Kraeng district, to meet members of TGF’s Individual Entrepreneur project and to conduct a focus group discussion, to gain constructive feedback from the users of the project – the beneficiaries. This was an opportunity for TGF leadership to learn first hand about beneficiaries’ stories, and an added platform for beneficiaries to talk about their ambitions and expansion that they may be motivated to undertake.

The Individual Entrepreneur project seeks to create opportunities for financially marginalised individuals in Chi Kraeng, who show motivation to work towards developing sustainable businesses, to support themselves and their families. Interested individuals tend to be women, with 15 of the 16 currently TGF supported entrepreneurs being women. They engage in small business activities such as chicken farming, grocery shops, mobile grocery sales, mushroom farming and tailoring. Entrepreneurs show desire and motivation to work with a viable business, and TGF provides business skills training, ongoing support and a start-up grant. All of the current entrepreneurs are earning profits, but a number of them are ambitious, and want to expand on their business

“I learned most about how to grow mushrooms on YouTube, and have been able to double my output thanks to TGF, but would love training go develop my own spores, to earn even more”, says Channary, who’s mushroom farm supplies a number of villages in the area. The farm takes constant work, but she is excited to expand. “If I can access a loan of $800, I can double my output again, which would be amazing”.

Channary and her husband in their mushroom farm.

Rathy operates a small tailoring business from home, but finds herself busy a lot of the time. “I now train some people who live in villager farther away, which works for me, as they would not compete in the area I work in. I earn from that, as well as my busy tailoring.”

Rathy, operating one of her sewing machines.

It was also interesting to learn about ambitions entrepreneurs had for their children, with all having had limited or no primary education themselves. A general understanding of the need to be send their own children to school was shared among all.

I finished school at Grade 3, but one of my son’s is going to university now in Phnom Penh. He is doing very well“, says Bopha, one of the older members of the project. “I finished Grade 6, but didn’t study more. The extra income earned from my home grocery store means I can send my children to school more regularly than before,” says Leakhana, a mother of three running a small grocery store in Kraing village. These entrepreneurs want opportunities for their children that they themselves did not have. The Individual Entrepreneur project helps them achieve that.

Bopha, who’s son goes to university.

Mostly, the visit gave Trustees the opportunity to consider what beneficiaries needs are, giving them information to take forward when working on project development. “This was great. We know that people want to expand, so hopefully can get working on how we can create opportunity to expand” – Brad Levitt, TGF Board Co-Chair.

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