Success in Cambodia: Credit Program Enables Women to Grow Businesses

Image credit: khmernz.blogspot.com

The Cambodia Rural Economic Development Initiatives for Transformation (CREDIT) is a micro-finance program working in five of Cambodia's most populous provinces and expanding into one of the country's poorest provinces, Siem Reap. It offers financial services and education to poor Cambodian women and provides them with capital so they can start and expand their micro-enterprises. CREDIT is also an opportunity to develop positive and transformational relationships with the women, many of whom have not had any previous contact with Christianity. Last year 9,000 women were served through the program. Several loan programs have been designed to meet the differing needs of CREDIT clients:

Agricultural loans – To meet the needs of women and their families who require loans solely for farming activities, CREDIT has developed an agricultural loan product. This pilot was launched in 2001 in one of Cambodia's larger agricultural areas. As the pilot proved to be successful, loans were also made available for livestock for up to eight months and in large loan amounts. Loans are typically unsecured at $75 to $200, with the principal paid at the end of the loan cycle when the farmer redeems their crop.

Community Bank loans – Rural clients who engage in agricultural activity, but supplement their income with a micro-enterprise, borrow in groups of more than eight people. The average outstanding portfolio is just $47. Clients meet weekly or every fortnight and support one another in their businesses and in meeting their loan repayments.

Solidarity group loans – Some clients are apprehensive about the risk involved in cross-guaranteeing a large group of people. They feel safer guaranteeing just one or two persons. These clients normally form into groups of two to ten persons. The average outstanding loan for solidarity group clients is $65. Solidarity group clients typically have businesses such as fruit and vegetable growing, trade store, food processing and a range of trading activities.

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