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Women Face Obstacles for Small Businesses


Limited education, poor money management and cultural restrictions are among the main challenges for women to conduct business in the country, according to an advocate for Cambodian business women.

More and more women are curious about owning their own businesses, but challenges remain, said Keo Davy, vice president of the Woman’s Association of Small and Medium Businesses, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

“More women are now in business, but most of their businesses are small,” she said.

Women have less education, less capital resources and difficulty with money management, accounting and future planning, she said. This keeps them from entering larger or industrial businesses.

Cultural limitations also hamper women.

“Culture and tradition make Cambodian women fear building relations with male customers,” she said. “Women are always discriminated against by people in society when they communicate with male costumers in public.”

Women who own big businesses also face family conflicts, she said.

“As a leader of a company, I became famous in society,” said Kao Mom, president of Ly Ly Food Industry. “But my husband was dissatisfied, wondering why I was more famous than him. Since then, we had disputes, which I thought would bring my business down. Finally, I decided to divorce him.”

A hospital worker in Siem Reap province, Sinketh Arun, who took a 50 percent share with her cousin to open a construction company, said she was kicked out of discussions until the company suspended operations.

“They didn’t really want a woman to know about the business,” she said. “They asked me not to care about anything whenever I showed my concern about the business. They felt women have less ability to make the job a success.”

Keo Davy said many men want women to respect their ideas, and likewise, “Women need more support from their husbands, families or society.”

“Without women’s participation, the economy can’t flourish,” she said. “From now on, women must join hands to build a strong voice and bring the message to the government to fulfill their needs.”

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