Older Cambodians are vulnerable to financial insecurity and are often forced to take out high-interest loans to cover agriculture or business costs. Many ageing people face rising costs of living due to health concerns and struggle to repay loans. HAC and Older People’s Associations work together in each village to create income generation projects for older people needing income security. The projects aim to develop sustainable, age inclusive methods of generating income. HAC and Older People’s Associations have generated projects that work on cow banks, rice banks and revolving fund loans.
Small Business Training
Small business training is an income generation program supported by HAC and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). It focuses on developing the skills of OPA members, especially those from poor households with older members. The development could be in marketing, business operations, other methods to increase their income and basic livelihood.
In 2013, 126 older people from 21 villages were selected for training. Around 75% were women and the majority of the trainees were the head of their family households. The people from the poorest households are given priority to participate in the program for small business training. The trainee and OPA members are provided a manual on applying the Success Case Replication (SCR) approach, this is a simple method of village-based informal apprenticeships. It involves local small business owners sharing their business skills and knowledge to a group of trainees as well as contributing to the initial capital to start a small business. Small business activity gives the opportunity to the poorest families to start their own business.
The small business activities in this program are:
- Tailor-made clothes
- Grocery sales
- Bicycle repairs
- Animal husbandry for pig, chicken and duck farming.
Cow bank is a sustainable income-generating service supporting the livelihoods of Cambodian farmers across 46 villages since 2007.
To establish a cow bank HAC contributes five cows and training on how to manage a cow bank. The cow bank program is managed and administered by local Older People’s Association members. The OPA will select and train recipients, record data and practice animal husbandry.
Recipients are local OPA members, and active older farmers with enough land to build a cow barn. Every first and third calf bred is given to the cow bank as a repayment, while the farmer keeps every second and four calf that is born. After a year, the farmer is debt-free with greater income earning potential. Cow manure can be used as an organic, healthier chemical-free fertiliser for growing rice and vegetables with reduced expenses. For poorer farmers, they can save money on renting hand tractors so the cow can plough their rice fields.
There are many benefits of cow bank;
- A farmer can sell a cow for around US$500, guaranteeing enough income to cover their grandchild or child’s education, healthcare and daily expenses,
- Animal husbandry keeps older farmers physically active as they find grass feed and wash the cows,
- Social and intergenerational bonding occurs when they teach the skill to their children and grandchildren.
Rice Banks are a sustainable social enterprise that provides food security for older people and their families. Over 100 rice banks have been established by HAC since 2006.
To establish a rice bank HAC contributes four to five tonnes of rice grains and administration training. Each rice bank program is managed and administered by the local Older People’s Association members. Members can borrow seeds for farming or food at a low interest rate. The interest earned from borrowedstock is used to increase rice stock levels, cover Older People’s Association administration expenses and support poor and vulnerable OPA members.
This means that rice farmers no longer need to borrow seeds and rice with high interest repayments from other small businesses outside of the village and all economic activity stays within the village.