Empowering Cambodian Women Entrepreneurs


women entrepreneurs

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH provided coaching to Cambodian women business owners from October to November 2022.

These women were public administration professionals and members of the Cambodia Women Entrepreneurs Association (CWEA). The coaching sessions included one-on-one sessions and workshops where the women received valuable advice for personal development, which can be viewed as a form of everyday, practical “female empowerment.”

women entrepreneurs

Women entrepreneurs significantly influence the business community and economic growth in Cambodia. Many women in Cambodia own microbusinesses or work in the informal economy. Despite their efforts, they face numerous obstacles in starting and growing their companies. The GIZ-ICONE program equips women with the tools they need to expand their enterprises, acquire new skills, boost their confidence, and find support and inspiration from other business owners. Heike Niemeier, with her expertise in systemic coaching and sexual counseling, helps women entrepreneurs develop self-confidence, inner strength, and focus on their vision, strategy, and goals through her empathetic yet firm methods.

The focus of the program is on two tasks:

  • Further development of the Business Clinic: Women entrepreneurs are developing programs to help other women founders start their own businesses.
  • One-on-one coaching sessions: These sessions cover topics such as self-care as a success factor, setting priorities and boundaries, stress management, and creative inspirations.
women entrepreneurs
women entrepreneurs

Working with the women during the two weeks was a mix of seriousness, humor, passion, and occasional frustration. The challenges arose not because the women were unwilling to work together, but due to unfavorable living conditions. These challenges included credit debts and traditional gender roles that placed a heavy burden on women. Despite these obstacles, there were remarkable female entrepreneurs. Among them:

  • Mao Sophany, the owner of the restaurant Spoon, made a significant impact in her neighborhood. She developed apprenticeship programs for young people from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. These programs not only expanded their educational opportunities but also improved their families’ financial situations. Through her program, she provided these young individuals with the chance to grow professionally and enhance their future prospects.
  • Ho Hong, along with two other women, launched a female-only guide and TukTuk business. In a culture where women are often confined to traditional roles, this initiative marked a significant achievement. The program not only enhanced the financial security of these women but also challenged gender stereotypes and promoted the status of women in society.
women entrepreneurs

These stories serve as motivating examples of the positive impact women can have on their communities through education, economic empowerment, and the development of practical life skills.