The sewing program at Human and Hope Association has empowered dozens of women to break the cycle of poverty. Apart from sewing training, life skills lessons, business workshops and farming training, these Cambodian women can participate in a microfinance program. For just $140USD, they can purchase their own sewing machine through Human and Hope Association, and pay back their principal with an interest rate of $6USD over two years. These repayments are low risk for the students, and since the inception of the microfinance program in 2013, Human and Hope Association has maintained a 100% repayment rate. The women who study in the sewing program at Human and Hope Association earn between zero and $50USD a month before they study. Afterwards, their incomes double, triple or even quadruple, ensuring their standard of living increases dramatically.
These microfinance loans are so empowering, as the women own something by themselves, and are entirely responsible for what they choose to do with the machines. The machines might be used to increase the experience of a student while they are studying at Human and Hope Association, or perhaps the student will set up their own business. However they chose to use it, one thing is for certain. These machines are paving the way to independence for Cambodian women.
Tharch comes from an impoverished family of five. She had no other choice but to stop studying at public school in grade eight, as she needed to help her parents each money. Tharch worked as a construction builder and worked with her mother selling jelly. Tharch approached Human and Hope Association as construction work was taxing on her body. She had always been interested in sewing, but never had the funds to pay for training. She was accepted into the sewing program and recently took out a loan to purchase an overlocker after paying off her initial loan. She works at home daily, creating clothes for her community and also as a contractor for a sewing shop.
“Human and Hope Association taught me how to save money and reduce my expenses, in addition to teaching me sewing.”
Heak was hired as a seamstress to make our handicrafts in 2015. Last year, determined to increase her income, Heak resigned from her position and began working at a shop in Siem Reap town. She now earns $120USD a month and her mental wellbeing has skyrocketed. A single mother, Heak now has a stable income to look after her five-year-old son. On the side, she uses the machine she purchased through the microfinance program to fix clothes for her villagers, earning an additional $90USD a month.
Liya graduated from Human and Hope Association’s sewing program in 2017. Coming from a big family of eight people, Liya stopped studying in grade seven to support her family. She took out a microfinance loan to practice her lessons, and now uses it on the weekend to sew clothes for her villagers. During the week, she works as a seamstress in Siem Reap town, earning $100USD a month.
“I am really happy that I can know sewing skill because I can rely on myself.”
A former seamstress from Hope Handicrafts, Saney resigned in 2016 as she found it difficult to juggle her home sewing business and make handicrafts. Since setting up her business at home in 2014, Saney has taken out two microfinance loans with Human and Hope Association, which she has paid off. She and her husband built a new home this year with her profits, replacing the unstable bamboo shack with a dirt floor they have lived in for nine years.
Soeum is a former seamstress with Hope Handicrafts. She increased her confidence with sewing by making our handicrafts and used the experience to help her achieve her goal of working in an ethical factory in Siem Reap. She now earns $120USD a month at the factory and uses her machine to make and fix clothes for her neighbours on the weekends. Her dream is to build a new home.
A current advanced sewing student, Soeuy was initially quiet and shy around her classmates. Over time, her confidence and demeanour improved, and Soeuy came out of her shell. Determined to make an income, Soeuy asked her husband to use his salary to buy her a sewing machine. She then took out a microfinance loan with Human and Hope Association to purchase an overlocker, enabling her to set up a business. Soeuy currently earns $60USD a month working part-time from her home, and upon graduation, she intends to approach a sewing shop that outsources their work.
Sangorb is a busy lady. Aside from making our handicrafts, Sangorb also has a successful business at her home, and makes on average $190USD a month. Sangorb graduated from Human and Hope Association’s sewing program in 2016, and has taken out two microfinance loans. With the profit from her business, Sangorb and her husband replaced their bamboo shack with a brick home this year.
Chenda is a student in the advanced sewing class at Human and Hope Association. advanced student. She previously worked as a kitchen hand at a hotel in the evenings, and helped her husband in his scrap dealership business during the daytime. Chenda makes clothes for a sewing shop in town and fixes clothes for her neighbours. She is already earning around $105USD a month, and we expect her income to increase upon graduation.