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Wednesday, 02nd June 2021 – Phnom Penh, Cambodia
On Wednesday, 02nd June 2021, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) and Woomentum Cambodia co-organized a digital launch for a publication and qualitative study titled “The Path to Success: How Women-owned Businesses transform in the Era of Digitalization”. The study was conducted by KAS Japan (SOPAS) and Woomentum Asia in 2020 and is providing an insight on the challenges faced and opportunities brought by digitalization in the context of Covid-19 to women entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia. It is a report of in-depth qualitative research based on interviews with 86 women enterprises in four countries: Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia, which later translated into the respective languages.
In celebration of the project, KAS Cambodia co-hosted a panel discussion with Woometum Cambodia on “Female Entrepreneurs and Digitalization in Cambodia” by inviting four distinguished speakers from different walks of life to share their experiences in adapting their businesses and organizations during the pandemic in the Kingdom.
Prior to the panel discussion KAS country representative Ms. Isabel Weininger in her welcoming remarks touched upon the special impacts that crises, such as Covid-19 have on women. Furthermore, she introduced the structure of the publication, that covered four pillars: access to financing, access to monitoring, networking and skills, business process and management as well as Covid-19 crisis management.
- H.E. Dr. Devyani Uttam Khobragade, Ambassador of India to Cambodia
- Oknha Keo Mom, President of Cambodia Women Entrepreneurs Association (CWEA)
- Ms. Sabine Joukes, Country Director of Pact Cambodia
- Ms. Sara Monti, Member of the Board of Directors of EuroCham Cambodia
The panel started off with the introduction from each speaker where we learned about their work and priorities, moderated by Ms. Socheata Touch from Woomentum Cambodia.
As part of her diplomatic mission, H.E. Dr. Devyani Uttam Khobragade is committed to contribute in the promotion of women leadership, entrepreneurship and development in Cambodia through providing capacity building and encouraging girls to pursue their education in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Furthermore, she was sharing Indian experiences on the practices of United Payments Interface (UPI), a real-time payment system, to the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) with the hope to contribute in the development of Cambodia’s banking system.
Ms. Sabine Joukes shared challenges, that Cambodian Women Entrepreneurs are facing. She highlighted that there are many female entrepreneurs in Cambodia but they had little feasibility in expanding their businesses and their companies tended to be small, that is often not known by large group of people. She further stressed the importance of supporting what they really need instead of what we think they need, taking into account of the differences between urban-based and rural-based entrepreneurs. The key to empower women in entrepreneurship in Cambodia is to provide them the “know-how approach” to digital skills as they are keen to start their own businesses, yet they do not know how to properly apply digital skills or sell and promote their product through professional digital marketing.
Due to Oknha Keo Mom, President of CWEA, there are two main challenges that Women Entrepreneurs in Cambodia are facing: (1) the lack of access to financial services, especially access to loans (due to poor financial records), and (2) limited digital literacy. In overcoming these, CWEA is reaching out and collaborating with banks in Cambodia to counter the problem and seek for support in order to support local entrepreneurs. In addition to that, they provide trainings on digital skills for their members.
On the other hand, Ms. Sara Monti shared her perspective from EuroCham on digital skills as the most important tools for female entrepreneurs in this era. The digital skills could range from managing business website, directory and dialogue to keeping up with the latest legal digital framework. Due to Ms. Monti it would be also important to promote women’s economic empowerment at the center of respective institutions agenda and make sure women were well-represented in boards.
As a conclusion, the speakers acknowledged the significance of people-to-people contacts and the need to adapt with the digital platforms. In order to move forward and to support women entrepreneurs in Cambodia, its necessary to increase capacity building trainings and a space for them to raise their challenges and experiences to all relevant stakeholders, especially to the government. Additionally, creating a safe online environment we will encourage more women to move their business into the digital space.
**For watching the entire discussion, please click here: https://fb.watch/5Vm-T05vby/