What Mother's Day means for Kiva Partners: Perspectives from Cambodia

For Mother's Day, we wanted to hear from some of our partners in the field about how motherhood, or helping mothers, has changed their perspective or inspired them to do more. We were excited to speak to Yuthida Sophat, treasury officer for VisionFund Cambodia, who is also a young mother.

KIVA: How does VisionFund Cambodia work to serve and support mothers?

YUTHIDA: VisionFund (Cambodia), a social-oriented MFI, has a precise mission to empower poor women and their families with small loans and other financial services. To support this mission statement, VisionFund targets women clients, especially mothers, as they play a crucial role to support the entire family including household chores, and family’s business/income generating activities.

VisionFund mainly targets the women clients as part of its social performance works to help improve their family status. As of March 2013, VisionFund has served up to 93% out of total clients. In addition, VisionFund sets a specific percentage of women clients as one of the incentives for loan officers. Annually VisionFund selects its clients from all branches to be the best client award winner. One of the eligibilities for the program is women clients. We also provide basic financial education to clients especially women so as to equip them with some idea to better manage their families' financial resources and save some money for future needs.

KIVA: How has being a mother influenced the way you think about or approach your work? 

YUTHIDA: When I became a mother, I always wanted to provide good things for my child including good food, clothes, education, and a warm love etc. I think that all the mothers including our beneficiaries and clients who are mothers also feel the same way. This new life experience has encouraged me to perform my job well as I can contribute indirectly as the support staff from head office to help the poor.

KIVA: Have you met any borrowers who are mothers who stand out in your mind? 

I have been working with VisionFund for about five years. I came across this story when I had been there for about one year. This story has inspired me to try my best to perform my job. 

Theang Phally, one of VisionFund’s clients, is a widowed mother of one daughter and also the breadwinner in the family who needs to support her sibling. The rest of her family resides in Lek Dek district of Kandal Province. Every day, she needs to travel to the market, which is 16 km from her house to rice and other foods in order to resell along the way back to her house, traveling all by bicycle. From that business, she could earn only 3,000 KHR (about 75 cents) per day, which was not sufficient enough to provide three decent meals for her family.

The main challenge for her is the shortage of working capital to expand her business to earn more income for her family, and especially to send her sibling to school as well as to sustain her living. Fortunately, she attended the program promotion with her neighbor. She decided to get a small loan from VisionFund Cambodia in amount of 50,000 KHR (about US$12.50) as her first loan. She spent her first loan to buy necessary items to expand her business. This loan has supported her business on time and has improved her livelihood in a gradual manner. She has fully repaid her past loan with success and has applied for another loan to start up a small grocery stall at home instead of selling along the road. Her income has increased up to 10,000 KHR per day to sustain her lifestyle as well as her business.

KIVA: Why is it important for people to lend to mothers in Cambodia?

In the past, mothers had to take care of the house and the children only while their husband was the primary income earner. However, this concept has been changed. Nowadays in Cambodia, the mothers are one of the breadwinners in the family as they can manage the family’s cash flow wisely and the household chores. Hence, the mother role has been remarkably recognized. Therefore, they can manage their loan wisely to support the need for the family’s benefit.

This Mother's Day, you can give the gift of a loan. Give a Kiva Card and give someone you know the opportunity to support mothers worldwide.

Have questions about Mother's Day or Kiva Card? 
Send them our way at blog@kiva.org.


About the author

Camille Ricketts

Camille brings her passion for storytelling to Kiva, where she helps create and curate online content. A longtime journalist, she started her career reporting on arts and culture for the Wall Street Journal in London and New York. In 2008, she joined San Francisco-based blog VentureBeat, writing about  green technology, policy and finance. Most recently, she worked in public relations for electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors. Outside of work, Camille volunteers as a web designer for maternal health nonprofit Saving Mothers. She holds a B.A. in women's history from Stanford University, where she also served as editor in chief of The Stanford Daily.