Savings Group Leads to a United and Prosperous Community

May Sreyneang

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This story was written by a participant of Oxfam’s Mekong Youth Engagement and Storytelling Workshop. Each story provides a local perspective on some of the broader work we do to support communities, including natural resource management, saving for change, women and youth empowerment and bringing communities together.

Sixty-year-old Sek Khem is pleasantly chatting with her family in her house.

She is a member of the local savings group in Sam Phin Village, Kratie Province, Cambodia.

She is a widow with four children and is currently living with her youngest daughter, helping with farm work and running her grocery shop.

In early 2014, there was an announcement about the importance of saving for change from the local NGO, Northeastern Rural Development (NRD), with the support of Oxfam.

Sek Khem was interested in this way of saving and formed a local savings group with 22 members, 18 of whom were women on April 10, 2014 with the help of NRD.

“Establishing a community saving group is very important for poor people who can’t afford to save and borrow money to expand their business or cope with the difficulties and establish good solidarity in the community,” she said.

Sek Khem, center, and the women of Sam Phin village gather at a Savings Group meeting. (May Kimsreang)

In the past, Sek Khem said her village did not have a savings group when they needed money and would have to borrow from local money lenders or a microfinance institution and had to user their land titles and documents as collateral.

‘’(Now) we are a member of the saving group, so we can borrow money and just follow the rules and regulation of the savings group only,” she said.

The group has successfully saved by each member making small contributions when they can and provided loans to members and with low interest rates.

The group share money (principle saving) and interest to members once a year.

Participation in the savings group has improved Sek Khem and the other members livelihoods.

She was able to start another business by using her savings and borrowing more from the group.

“I borrowed money from the savings group to engage with another business, to build a grocery store with my money to improve my family’s living conditions,” she said.

The savings group meetings have proven to be an important focal point of the community and an opportunity to build solidarity.

It’s a chance for members to talk about their families, speak about issues like domestic violence, their children’s health, agricultural techniques, fishing, or simply to catch up.

Their group has now added three more members to its ranks and now runs independently without NRD’s assistance.

The group has helped Sek Khem and her community prosper.

 

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