An enterprise called Hattha Neary has launched to empower women in Cambodia. Inspired by the experiences of the founder's mother and aunt, both of whom are rural and urban dwellers, the company aims to turn the creativity of women into something new and meaningful, while also contributing to the improvement of society.
Hattha Neary, which means women's hands, focuses on producing self-care products for the soul and natural healing. All of the components and ingredients used in the products are naturally purified with approved quality testing.
The company works closely with small-scale family farms to collect the season's best harvest, which is then hand-processed and wrapped with eco-friendly and handmade packaging in Cambodia.
The woman behind Hattha Neary is Pheap Sothon, who grew up in rural Banteay Meanchey province, experiencing the struggles of a single mother who did not have a sustainable job and had to migrate to find work to support her family.
Despite her efforts, she was unable to support her children's education and sometimes did not have enough money for food. Sothon's aunt, who worked as a nurse, served as a role model for an independent and strong woman.
Witnessing her mother's struggles as a single parent and her aunt's hard work as a nurse motivated her to work hard and become independent.
Sothon is the founder of Hattha Neary, committed to offering products of premium quality, chemical-free residues that are produced in an environmentally responsible way that contributes to the protection of the planet's resources. It also has a strong focus on empowering women and promoting sustainability,
"We believe in starting from within and building our enterprise with our own hands. Our customers find us on social media, building trust in our premium quality, natural and eco-friendly products," Sothon told Kiripost. “Hattha's target includes adults who appreciate the value of handmade, natural products that are free of chemicals and plastics.”
Sothon launched her startup with no capital and little preparation in 2019 by researching raw materials available in Cambodia. She discovered that tea was abundant and decided to create a product from scratch to reduce the need for imports, partnering with an eco-friendly shop selling natural products.
Hattha Neary, a project that started with nothing but a dream and a passion to make a difference. She added that creating a network gave her the potential to make the business grow. During Covid-19, he faced huge hurdles having to reduce staff, as she lost income, and made her shop contactless to make income to survive. However, this taught her that despite difficulties, nothing is impossible and if they are faced head on, they can be overcome.
After receiving a scholarship and graduating in Chemical Engineering, she realized that working in an office was not fulfilling and decided to step out of her comfort zone to pursue her passions using her knowledge to make a positive impact on rural communities through Hattha Neary.
The enterprise empowers housewives, widows, and women with disabilities by providing jobs producing natural products, such as creams, candles, tea, and accessories.
"There are many challenges faced by rural women, including limited access to education and reliance on their husbands for income. Hattha Neary was created to empower these women and provide them with the opportunity to earn money, educate their children, and share their experiences with others."
Hattha Neary can help rural women earn a living by providing opportunities for them to pack natural produce, grow crops and harvest them, and earn a monthly income to assist with their children's education.
She said, “I don’t like to see females ask permission from men for anything. I hope Hatta Neary can help female income to help them get an education, have jobs, and survive independently for themselves.”
Hattha Neary is a project aimed at empowering and developing the lives of women in the country through sustainable practices. Profit is not the main goal, but rather the betterment of the community, with love and care, and a brighter future the goals that are being worked towards.
She added, “I'm not a business person, but I want to do something useful for the rural community. It's better to do something than nothing, so I decided to start despite the challenges and limitations.
"The challenge is connecting networks, scaling customers, marketing strategy, and limited capital, even for a technically skilled person who is comfortable with internal control."
Despite being an orphan, and a single mother, she persevered, investing in herself and seeking knowledge to make her vision a reality. With a growth mindset and a willingness to learn from others, she built a network and overcame challenges such as limited capital, marketing, and connecting with customers.
“Despite it being slow but it’s sticky, it opens Hattha Neary to healing what I have faced in the past. It is a good story when I switch my pain to healing, moreover, I’m the person who doesn’t forget the pain but switches pain to gain the benefits, not revenge,” she said.
Sothon is grateful for the challenges she faces, including unethical business cooperation, as she stands alone. She believes that non-stop effort always leads to results and that difficulties must be faced upfront and dealt with.
Hattha Neary involves paint art and creates core values prioritizing trust and customer honesty. Most of its customers believe in the business’s vision to empower women. “Our impact goes beyond just selling products,” added Sothon.
Sothon has rented a shop and found a community of customers who believe in her mission. While the business is not yet sustainable, she remains focused on the journey, taking it one step at a time.
“It is not yet a sustainable income but I’m trying to fulfill, and enjoy the journey. I keep going with no plan, but I have a journey and destination,” she said.