Women in Cambodia own 55% of private businesses – yet the vast majority of these are located in the informal sector where they have little opportunity to scale and grow. From the small-medium enterprise level up (where all the profit lives) it continues to be a man’s world. Women-run businesses account for only 40% of total business revenue and 51% of total business profit. 51% of women’s businesses only engage one person, and 96% four or fewer people.
So what keeps Cambodian businesswomen from entering the profitable business sphere?
Some of the barriers facing women entrepreneurs in Cambodia are:
- Lack of education
- Lack of business training
- Lack of financial management skills or training
- Lack of access to financial capital and investment
- Lack of support in their business ventures
- Cultural barriers and gender-specific obligations and duties
Why should we care?
Investing in women means investing in the entire household. Women are more likely than men to invest more resources in their children’s needs, such as health and education, which creates a more productive future generation. It is estimated that women will reinvest 90% of their revenue into their families. Not only, women are more likely to invest in their families, they are also more likely to support other women in their communities, creating social impact. In a larger scale, supporting women entrepreneurs will increase the national education level, by improving the sanitation and nutrition inside the country.
Perhaps most importantly, when we don’t support female entrepreneurs, then only 50% of the population is fully participating in, and contributing to, the economic development of a country. Imagine if women were able to scale their businesses to the same degree as men currently are, and the larger impact this could create!
What can we do to support the women entrepreneurs in our lives?
- We can start by educating ourselves on gender-specific discrimination that women face in their personal and professional lives.
- We can spend more time helping around the house so they have more time to focus on their businesses
- We can encourage and support them to pursue their goals
- We can believe in their strength and courage and invest in their businesses