How to help families get out of debt? Give women financial management skills

Two years ago, Chheang, 24, was in debt. Her family owed $2000 for a loan they had taken to buy a new boat engine and fishing equipment for her husband; she was worried about losing their land if they could not make the repayments. But after joining the P.A.C.E. training CARE organised in her community, Chheang has been able to pay off their loan and is now planning her family’s finances more effectively.

Both Chheang first became involved with CARE when she joined a community savings group. “I used to try to save at home but it would not last long as it was easy to take the money out again and spend it.” Keeping her money with the group helped make this easier for her, but Chheang found the greatest help was the training her group received.

The short training sessions each week – which were adapted from Gap Inc.’s Personal Advancement and Career Enhancement (P.A.C.E.) training for garment factory workers – covered skills which helped Chheang make the most of her membership for the savings group. “I used to save three shares with my savings group each week but after the P.A.C.E training helped me to manage my expenses better, I can now save five shares every week.

”The P.A.C.E. training covered skills such as numeracy, recording daily expenses and managing cashflow. Chheang had not expected that making small changes in her routine could have such a big impact on their finances. “After the training, sometimes I was surprised when I realised that many small, unplanned expenses would take us over our income so we had nothing spare to save. Now I plan our spending better and this has been very good for our family.

”Having to pay back their loan has been a constant worry for Chheang and the removal of this stress has made her much happier. “The savings group helped me to pay this back much quicker and we are now free of debt. I am now much more relaxed and I live without fear that we will lose our land.”Chheang has experienced many benefits from the P.A.C.E. training, which covers more than just financial skills. “The most important change for me is that I can now read a little and add up,” she says. Before, she felt she lacked skills and so had little confidence to speak up for herself. “Before CARE’s training I felt afraid to talk in groups or meetings.

Now I have more confidence,” she says.Chheang’s self-confidence is evident as she affirms how her involvement has changed how she views herself. “I feel I now have more of a role within my family. Because of the P.A.C.E training I don’t just do chores but can also manage our income well.”

The P.A.C.E community is funded by GAP inc.

Learn more about the P.A.C.E in community project