Empowering Cambodian women to build their businesses

22 May 2017

Above Lot 369 café in the rapidly developing neighbourhood around Phnom Penh’s Russian Market is a small social enterprise with some big ideas for the women of Cambodia.

SHE (Support Her Enterprise) Investments was set up a couple of years ago by two young Aussies, Celia Boyd and James Wilson, who saw a gap in the vital areas of training, mentoring and supporting women entrepreneurs in Cambodia and helping them to grow their businesses.

Celia says those two years have been a whirlwind. SHE Investments has quickly grown and has provided several training courses for businesswomen, run in their own language by Khmer women facilitators, as well as mentoring from international business coaches and better access to ongoing support and capital.

Just like the café Celia and James run downstairs, they want their social enterprise to be self-sustaining and not just dependent on the generosity of (mostly Australian) supporters. This is where an effective communication strategy comes in to help to tell their story to Cambodia and potential supporters worldwide.

Their latest Australian volunteer was Ric Jay, a communications specialist with a long background in international journalism, including with the ABC, and news management and running multi-media community campaigns.

“SHE ticked all the boxes for me,” Ric says. “They are genuinely making a difference for businesswomen in Cambodia and for their families and communities. They are working hard to be a self-sustaining social enterprise and they were simply brilliant and fun to work with.”

Geachleang Seng – ‘Leang’ to her friends – had just taken on the new role of Communications Officer for SHE. Leang says, “Ric taught me about many things I’d never learned before, like video and how to broadcast Facebook Live.”

All of this is being put to good use as SHE embarks on its ‘50 Women Project’, a drive to find 50 women in Australia and elsewhere to provide scholarships for 50 Cambodian women entrepreneurs to attend training courses.

Of Ric’s three months with SHE, Celia says, “aside from the new skills and capacity that the staff built up, most importantly I have seen a huge increase in their confidence.”

Ric says “what impressed me most about SHE was the thoughtful and structured way they are working with – and for – Khmer women. We know the powerful multipliers of supporting women in business, but SHE goes one step further… They do it in an authentically Cambodian culture and context.”

“Telling your story to the world is at the heart of every communication strategy,” Ric says, “and SHE has a great story to tell.”

The Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program is an Australian Government initiative. Ric’s assignment was developed by Australian Business Volunteers who are working in consortium with Scope Global, a delivery partner of the AVID program. 

Ric and his counterpart at SHE, Leang. Photo: G Hinsbey


Last Updated: 22 May 2017