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USAID and Pact Cambodia launch ‘In Her Hands’ to help women entrepreneurs formalize their business

Harrison White

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Pact Cambodia have launched In Her Hands, a publication that provides women entrepreneurs in Cambodia with the tools to build a thriving business.

By offering practical resources and case studies, In Her Hands acts as a how-to guide that can enable any entrepreneur to address challenges they encounter in their business, such as how to register with the National Social Security fund.

The publication is available in Khmer and English and details the essential steps needed to transform a small, informal business into a legitimate enterprise with higher growth potential and legal protection.

To read more about the ‘Give a Day’ initiative click here.

“USAID strongly supports women’s economic and civic engagement and access to information is critical to that engagement,” said Ms. Hanh Nguyen, USAID/Cambodia Acting Mission Director. “In Her Hands will provide Cambodia’s female entrepreneurs with the information they need to start and grow their businesses.”

“The magazine supports women entrepreneurs to make their business dreams a reality,” said Ms. Sabine Joukes, Pact Cambodia Country Director. “The magazine features real-life stories from women entrepreneurs about their challenges and offers practical steps to resolve issues to enable women entrepreneurs to take action.”

Challenges facing women entrepreneurs 

The event also hosted a panel discussion The panel discussion today highlighted obstacles and challenges faced by young women entrepreneurs especially SME business owners in Cambodia from starting up their businesses to running them successfully plus how the new magazine for the current and next generations of women entrepreneurs would benefit a great deal from the resources and content found in the magazine.

A panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities for women owned businesses.

The keynote panel discussion included:

  • Neang Sovatha, Project Manager at YEAC
  • Leap Somaly, Co-Founder and Managing Director of CAMKPI Professional Academy
  • Kat Thida, K.AKTIMA Co.Ltd
  • Sorn Channvattey, Managing Director V-Furniture store
  • Kounila Keo – Moderator, Managing Partner of Mekhala

According to them, many fear unregistered businesses are not recognized by the law; however, the panelists pointed out that the magazine gives them the confidence they need to do their business within their rights.

As the magazine touches upon four key rights (rights to engage in business, rights to education, rights to social protection and rights to property), all the panelists agreed that understanding these rights well will help not just them but many YWEs in Cambodia overcome challenges and ease entry to businesses for many women.

Formalizing women-owned businesses

According to a report by the International Labour Organization estimates approximately 90% of those who are employed in Cambodia are part of the informal economy as Cambodia’s General Department Of Taxation continues to advocate for more formalization under its strong drive to increase revenue collection.

However for many business owners, it is not a lack of understanding, but burdensome requirements of monthly tax filings, expensive annual licensing fees and uncompetitive tax requirements that remain the real reasons for not registering their companies.

To read more about challenges of Cambodian SMEs scaling up click here.

The printed version is available in both Khmer and English.

Speaking to Cambodia Investment Review during a Q&A session after the launch Sabine Joukes, Pact Cambodia Country Director commented that the booklet was for those that decided formalization was best for them and was not necessarily encouraging formalization for all businesses.

H.E The Chhun Hak, Director General of Gender Equality and Economic Development from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs added the ministry was continuing to work with the women in the SME community to address these concerns.

He added, that the booklet however was an important resource for those women that did decide formalization was best for them.

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