Keeping traditions alive and reaching remote communities in Cambodia

This is part of our series celebrating the unifying spirit of the Summer Games. Cambodia is one of 28 Kiva countries that have never won a medal, so we’re rallying to show our support through loans this month! Team Kiva for the win!

Situated between Thailand and Vietnam in Southeast Asia is a small, compact country of mostly flat and forested land: Cambodia. This beautiful country is home to over 15 million people and 130,000 Kiva borrowers.

Despite having made great strides forward in the last 10 years Cambodia is still one of the poorest countries in the region. Kiva works with Field Partners in Cambodia to target communities in Cambodia who have been left behind, particularly those living in remote rural areas.

One of Kiva’s Field Partners provides solar home systems to communities that are off the grid, including floating villages. Another provides water filters to remote areas to ensure that families have access to clean and safe drinking water. Kiva also works with a Field Partner training villagers to weave beautiful silk scarves to revive local craft making traditions, create local employment opportunities and prevent rural exodus.

So far, over $42 million has been lent to Cambodian borrowers. Typically our partners provide training services alongside loans to improve basic business and financial literacy skills or educate clients on proper hygiene practice, environmental issues or tackling domestic abuse.

Khon Phum, 62, (pictured above) is one example of a borrower in Cambodia who has used loans funded on Kiva to improve her livelihood. Khon has 3 married children and lives with her daughter on an island in the Mekong River. Since her teenage years, she has been weaving silk, an ancient craft with a long and rich history in Cambodia. Today, the craft is slowly dying as the cost of imported raw silk increases and the price of finished silk textiles drops. Despite the challenges faced by silk weavers, Khon says she will continue weaving, as it has been her livelihood and identity for nearly 50 years now. She used a loan funded on Kiva to purchase silk materials for her weaving business, which will allow her to continue this profession that she has worked at for so long.

Hor, 32, (pictured below) is another example of a borrower in Cambodia who has used loans funded on Kiva to make a better life for her and her family. Hor lives with her 2 children in the rural village in the Kampong Cham province, growing rice to earn income and pay for her family’s expenses. Her current business earns her family about 33,300 KHR per day (about $8). Working with Kiva’s field partner, VisionFund, she has used loans to buy rice seed to support her business, and hopes to improve her farmland to get a higher yield and improve her lifestyle.

Support our hard-working borrowers in Cambodia by making a loan

Portfolio Manager Vince Main contributed to this post.

About the author

Natalie Brown

Originally from Philadelphia, Natalie moved to San Francisco after graduating college to pursue her passion for helping people around the world. She received her B.A. in International Studies with a concentration in Africa from Elon University, and studied abroad twice during that time. Her love for Africa was solidified during her travels, first in Ghana where she visited schools and danced at durbars, then in Tanzania where she worked at a radio station and conducted field research in a village. A lover of languages, she can converse in French and Swahili (her favorite word being “bia”- beer), and she hopes to one day be in Senegal where she can speak French while living in Africa. It was in Tanzania that she first visited a microfinance institution, the Mama Bahati Foundation, which opened her eyes to the beauty of microfinance. Last summer, she canvassed for Doctors without Borders, and loved knowing she was working to help others. Now, she looks forward to the fulfilling work she will do at Kiva and to helping connect people around the world.