An affiliate of the Catholic Relief Service through the Thaneakea Phum Cambodia, the “Village Banking” Program is an initiative to reach 100,000 low-income rural families, particularly women. They seek to expand economic opportunities through microcredit to shrink the economic and social inequality in Cambodia. Established in eight provinces, they currently reach over 23,000 clients with 679 village banks.
Parn Tev is a 52-year-old widow from Svay Cha As Village in Battambang. She supports her family by selling cooled food at the Phsar Leu market. Most days, she could earn no more than US 70 cents a day before joining the village bank because she did not have enough capital.
|She has been with the bank for eight cycles now and has a current loan of 115 USD. This allows her to cook a greater variety of food for sale thus earning from 3-5 USD daily.|
She joined the village bank in 1996. She was poor and was also in debt for monies she borrowed to support the medical expenses of her husband who was very ill before his death in 1995.
With 25 USD as her first loan, she was able to expand her business and earn a decent income. The additional income allowed her to pay her dues to the bank, save some money and pay off her debts to other people little by little. She has been with the bank for eight cycles now and has a current loan of 115 USD. This allows her to cook a greater variety of food for sale thus earning from 3-5 USD daily. She also bought three piglets from her last loan, which she hopes to fatten and later sell for a profit during the Khmer New Year in April 2001.
She feels that the village bank has done well to improve her life. She has gained stature with the villagers since she always paid her installments on time. As further proof, she showed us the bicycle she has bought for her son, so he does not have to walk to the secondary school. In addition, she has added a new thatched roof for her house. Her daughter has learned to sew and is now contributing to the household income and saving for her marriage. Another daughter manages a variety store in the village, which was made possible because of her ability to access increasing amount of loans.
Parn Tev is optimistic that given time and support by her group and the village bank, she will be able to accomplish all the plans and dreams that she has. She believes that money used wisely begets more money that can make life easier for a poor widow like her. She now looks forward to a time when TPC would be ready to grant individual loans to good members like her. She was proud to say she has proven her determination and is ready for bigger loans.