Improving economic opportunities, decent work and self-resilience among young Cambodian women through skills acquired in Community-Based Enterprise Development (C-BED)

This project set out to improve the ability of tripartite partners and social safety net providers in Cambodia to provide low cost, sustainable programs for business skills development, secure-finance, and rights protection.

Project Objectives

The overall project objectives were –
  • Improving the scope, scale and sustainability of 6 key service providers that target young women age 15–34 in target locations;
  • Empowering 1,500 young women and improving their self-confidence to access secure finance, mutual aid, and rights protection;
  • Improving the capacity of 2,500 young women from low income households to start and improve their businesses through skills acquired in low-cost, community-run entrepreneurship training services (C-BED);
  • Improving economic opportunities and decent work outcomes for women in target locations; and
  • Strengthening national policy, programs and planning to better respond to and promote the rights and interests of young rural women in Cambodia;

About C-BED

C-BED is unique because of the ‘learning without a trainer’ methodology that is applied through a peer to peer, activity-based group model. Participants work together in small groups to solve problems and through sharing existing knowledge and experiences, entrepreneurs are able to help each other understand formal business concepts, like costing or marketing, and develop stronger skills for business improvement. While the programme was originally designed to target aspiring entrepreneurs and micro and small business owners, the training tools are designed to accommodate any individual with an interest in the relevant training topic. Further, as the program has evolved new training tools have been developed in the areas of rights, organizing, and empowerment and are intended for a broader target group.

Project Partners

Workers and employers organizations, international non-government organizations, and local community-based associations.

Target Groups

Young rural women, aged between 15 – 35, with less than 9 years of education, from poor households (IDPoor level 1 [very poor] or 2 [poor]), including those who lack the social and financial capital to migrate, those that are preparing to migrate, those who are preparing to or have recently exited the garment sector in Phnom Penh, and those who have returned.

Main Activities

The Project provided technical assistance and support to strengthen the institutional capacity of local actors to address social and economic empowerment needs and the deficits in decent working conditions of the young Cambodian women targeted. This involved institutional capacity building to improve the scale, scope and sustainability of services available through closer coordination among the partner institutions involved in promoting business skills development, secure-finance, and rights protection. The project augmented the C-BED training tools for entrepreneurship using existing information, education and knowledge products created by project partners, in past interventions, and in ongoing project work underway in Thailand and Lao PDR. The final product being a tailored, low cost community-based training toolkit/suite. Through establishing linkages to Oxfam’s Savings for Change intervention, the project improved the opportunity targeted young women had to access secure finance for business start-up and improvement. 

Project Outcomes

The project resulted in:
  • An augmented C-BED training suite was produced and related capacity building delivered to project partners and community-led savings group leaders;
  • Training activities conducted in Prey Veng, Oddar Meanchey and Phnom Penh resulted in improved capacity of beneficiary to tart and improve their businesses as well as increased household savings;
  • Oxfam, Plan International, and Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Worker Democratic Union (CCAWDU) have embedded C-BED within programmes that will be sustained beyond the life of the ILO project.

About the ILO/Japan SSN Fund

This project was made possible through the support of the ILO/Japan Fund for Building Social Safety Nets in Asia and the Pacific (SSN Fund). The SSN Fund aims to broaden the use of social safety nets through a wide range of projects to extend existing social security systems, promote occupational safety and health (OSH), develop human resources, strengthen labour inspection, eliminate forced labour and foster entrepreneurship. The Fund also responds to natural disasters by implementing crisis response activities in the affected areas to support disaster recovery.