Celebrating resilience of women-owned businesses in Cambodia

The pandemic has struck businesses across the globe, but women-led businesses have been disproportionately and negatively impacted by the pandemic.

Women entrepreneurs face a myriad of challenges in setting up and sustaining their businesses. From the impact of the pandemic, to gender stereotypes and the glass ceiling, women typically face several barriers that prevent their businesses from thriving. Despite these challenges, more than half of the businesses launched during the Covid-19 pandemic in Cambodia were started by women.

The need to promote gender equality and drive economic empowerment among women-led businesses in the post-Covid world is more important than ever. This is also why this year’s International Women’s Day theme is particularly relevant – #BreaktheBias, with the goal to encourage people around the world to envision a gender equal world that is free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination.

“The cash flow during Covid-19 crisis was the most challenging thing I had to face while running my business. To solve this, I decided to apply for grants and I got 2, from Khmer Enterprise and Wellbeing Advancement in 2021,” shared her experience Di Vichra, founder of Phka Doung, a social business specializing in making coconut oil and coconut-based products.

Di Vichra also explained how she used digital marketing techniques and Meta platforms to run her business: “Everybody in Cambodia is using Facebook, so that’s the place to be as a business owner. I create different types of content for the purpose of starting conversation with followers, motivating them through raising product awareness, showing them how our products are made, where our raw materials are collected from, sharing business stories, health, skin tips, parenting tips and more.”

Instagram has been a key platform for entrepreneur Luna Chenla, who recently started Fluff, a baking company focused on homemade treats prepared with high quality local ingredients. “I started Fluff by just posting a couple of pictures of our products on Instagram, and we have grown some organic customer base through there. We post regularly and try to be as personable as we can. Usually, I try to speak to my customers on social media the way I would to my family and friends, ” Luna explained her business plan.

Meta representatives have been inspired by the astonishing resilience of women business owners in Cambodia and this International Women’s Day, they celebrate that grit and resilience and launched new initiatives to support these women. For the month of march, they are challenging Instagram users to create a Reel highlighting their favorite women owned businesses and sharing with their followers encouraging them to create their own.

“At Meta, we remain committed to supporting women-led businesses around the world to unlock their entrepreneurial potential and create a more resilient, inclusive and equal society. Research has shown that women-led businesses tend to be smaller, less profitable, grow more slowly and have high closure rates. In Cambodia, we launch the #SheMeansBusiness program, to support women-owned businesses by providing access to curated education and training” said Beth Ann Lim, Director, APAC Policy Programs and Government Outreach

Women-led SMBs have a key role to play in establishing a resilient and prosperous post-pandemic world, and it is therefore imperative that they are not left behind as the recovery progresses and are provided with the support and opportunities to enable them to flourish.