Chamroeun is a microfinance institution (MFI) in Cambodia. It grants micro-loans to about 50,000 people, 85% of whom are women. Chamroeun targets the most disadvantaged and issues tiny micro-loans: the average loan is EUR 160.
The French non-profit organisation Entrepreneurs du Monde launched Chamroeun (meaning ‘progress’ in Khmer) in 2006 to promote access to financial services (credit, savings, health insurance, etc.) for poorly served communities in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. The MFI also offers various training courses, ranging from financial education to dealing with domestic violence.
Chamroeun now has 40 branches in 14 cities, and plans to spread further into rural areas, where many people are deprived of basic financial services.
A Chamroeun customer’s perspective
Before discovering Chamroeun, Sa Ath used to sell fish. Despite working extremely hard, she was only earning a pittance. Being an entrepreneur and determined to give her children a better future, Sa Ath decided to open a small restaurant.
She sought the support of Chamroeun and obtained a first loan of 400,000 riels (EUR 86), followed by others, which have gradually enabled her to an extra table, chairs, and so on. Sa Ath wants to use her next loan to invest in a television, which will attract more customers.
On Chamroeun’s training courses, Sa Ath has learned how to manage her business and her family budget. She has also acquired good habits to help prevent diseases, prioritise her children’s education and so on. She has managed to put her youngest daughter in school – an opportunity her older siblings did not have.
Finally, Sa Ath has opened her first savings account so that she can anticipate the expense of restocking her restaurant, plan spending for the family... and save money to pay for her daughter’s schooling.
‘Many thanks to Chamroeun for trusting me without asking for any security. I earn almost twice as much as before, our life is much better and my daughter can go to school. My dream is for her to study so that she can get a job in a company. This is the key to her future!’ exclaims Sa Ath.
Testimony with kind permission of Entrepreneurs du Monde.