How can you run a business if you can’t read or add up? Pum, 43, used to have to rely on her daughter to calculate her shop’s income and had issues getting customers to pay their debts. But thanks to the life skills training she received from CARE as part of PACE in the Community, Pum has doubled her income and is saving to continue investing in her business.
“I joined the training because I wanted to learn; I now know how to write a little,” says Pum. “Now I can easily record customer names and how much they owe so I can keep track of this.
”Pum has been a member of a community savings group called a Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) for a couple of years and has been able to invest the money she saved to increase the stock in her shop, which sells basic groceries and serves some food. She says the financial management skills she learned this year have really had an impact on her income.
“The most useful knowledge I have gained is how to manage my money. I can now calculate people’s change and our daily income more easily. Before, I just saved for one thing but now I can plan for many things. The money we earn is always reinvested in the shop.”Pum has also learned soft skills such as communication and negotiation, which have helped her to offer a better service in her store. “I now understand customer relationships much better; this has helped me get a better reputation for my business. Before, if someone did not pay I would get angry and go to their house; often they would not pay what they owed. Now I remain calm and I find people are much more likely to pay on time. People now comment on how polite and friendly I am and this is helping me to get more customers. My shop is busy until late at night.
”Her husband makes money as a fisherman and their incomes used to be similar, but they now earn much more from Pum’s shop. “Before I made about 1 million riel (USD$250) per month from the shop, but now I can get almost double that. My husband used to get angry if I was too busy, but now he sees the value of my work and helps when I need.”
Pum’s financial management skills are benefitting her whole family. “My children’s education costs are now secure,” she says, looking proudly at her teenage daughter who has just returned from school.
She plans to keep expanding her business and hopes to keep increasing her income. “Before I had dreams but I could not realise them. I never thought I could become like this woman I am today.”
These activities are part of the PACE in the Community project, which is funded by Gap Inc.