IMPROVING ACCESS TO VOCATIONAL TRAINING, COMMUNITY LED MICRO-FINANCE, AND BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY FOR INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS
Over $100,000 in savings held by community Savings Groups
Over 250% increase in household incomes since 2012
1 Agricultural Cooperative established networking 100 small holder farmers
850+ savings group members across 33 villages
TGF aims to improve livelihoods through the facilitation of community-led micro-finance and the development of micro-business by providing vocational and business skills training where it’s needed. We focus our Income Generation Programme on small scale farmers and their families, because this is the population with the highest levels of food insecurity, who have the greatest opportunity to develop and expand existing income streams. Our goals are: to increase food security/household capital through diversification of farming methods, to facilitate sustainable business, to provide capacity building for model farmers to be an example within their community, and to increase the capacity of community micro-finance/savings group leaders to manage and administer social funds effectively.
- Farmer Field Schools
- Community Savings Groups
- Vocational & Business Skills Training
- Agricultural Cooperatives
INTEGRATED FARMER FIELD SCHOOLS
TGF’s Integrated Farmer Field School (IFFS) bring together concepts and methods from agro-ecology, experimental education and community development, as a group-based learning process. IFFSs look to improve farmers understanding about the processes affecting their crops and livestock, through conducting field observations, simple experiments and group analysis. These activities enable participants to make their own locally-specific decisions about crop management practices. TGF has consolidated these different topics into an integrated course that looks to create linkage between different activities improving efficiency and increasing returns for farmers. The small scale plots utilized by participants provide the opportunity to grow vegetables to sell in local markets for additional income or for household consumption to improve food security. A commercial farming extension has also been added to support farmers who are keen to expand their home farms to commercially viable scale.
COMMUNITY SAVINGS GROUPS
Community-based Savings Groups are an innovative solution to financial exclusion of the rural poor that builds resilience and increases empowerment of beneficiaries, particularly women, who represent over 90% of the members of TGF’s Savings Groups (SGs). First implemented in 2011, to provide basic financial services to rural communities in Chi Kraeng, they deliver these services; including savings and credit, through small savings groups rather than financial institutions. Today, nearly 800 villagers across 31 villages in Chi Kraeng participate every month. TGF trains village based groups to save regularly, borrow from their group’s fund, and repay loans with interest. At the end of the annual saving cycle the fund is divided and each member receives their savings plus a share of the profit. Savings cycles are linked to the agricultural calender providing money and resources when they are most scarce. In 2016, TGF supported SGs provided villagers with access to over US$100,000 in credit.
VOCATIONAL & BUSINESS SKILLS TRAINING
A key challenge in raising incomes in rural communities is low financial literacy and lack of basic business skills, which limit the ability of local people to develop and expand small businesses. Every year TGF Income Generation (IG) programme staff provide training in book keeping, business development and marketing to community members in Chi Kraeng as well as providing ongoing support and mentoring to those who develop new, or expand existing businesses. TGF also has a limited budget to seed new businesses when required. As well as business skills, IG staff work with the Ministry of Agriculture to facilitate vocational training to improve local agricultural and animal husbandry practices; these include SRI rice and vegetable production, pig, chicken and fish raising.
TGF supports the Ministry of Agriculture’s objective of increasing the number of Agricultural Coperatives (AC) in Cambodia and increasing the participation of small farm owners in cooperative business activities. Working with local agriculture officials, TGF provides training and resources to enable farmers to establish small cooperatives. Members buy shares and use the capital to develop collaborative business activities such as agricultural input supply, bringing down the costs of inputs for their members. By collectivizing, farmers have more bargaining power than when acting alone, leading to reduced expenditures and higher returns of agricultural activities. Every year the cooperative holds an Annual General Meeting where financial reports are issued and share dividends generated from profitable business activities are disbursed to members. These AC’s are registered with the Ministry of Agriculture, who provide a national standard for the governance of Cambodian cooperatives.