SHE Investments’ Women Digipreneurs Event to Upskill and Empower Businesswomen

Lack of confidence as well as low financial and digital knowledge may have impeded the growth of women entrepreneurs in Cambodia. Centred on this, SHE Investments aims to help women overcome these challenges in a power-packed Khmer-language business webinar starting November 27
A woman sells fish in a market in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa
A woman sells fish in a market in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa

Women-led small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Cambodia have come a long way but they are still fraught by issues of confidence, decision-making, access to finance, digital literacy and networking.

Hun Keolydeth, deputy head of communications and digital products of homegrown SHE Investments, a social enterprise for women, said the entrepreneurship concept is new to women, including running and retaining business.

“They are limited by not having enough technical knowledge to maintain their finances, operate businesses or access markets, as well as the emotional support to take them through hard times,” she shared.

According to a 2019 report by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), about 26 percent of SMEs and 62 percent of micro enterprises in the country were owned by women, respectively, which was significantly higher than in many ASEAN countries.

“Yet, the impression is quite the opposite. Business women in Cambodia are perceived as being less outgoing and lacking leadership skills and the necessary initiative to run a business,” IFC said in the report.

During the pandemic, issues of digital and financial literacy stood out, Keolydeth said, adding that digital skills are “not common skills for women” but were forced to move their business online by utilising social media or e-commerce to sustain. “Some of them don’t even know how basic digital marketing works.”

As for access to finance, linked to the technical understanding of the business, many businesses are “not registered” and they “do not even have a proper financial record to start with”, thus securing a proper loan and financing is a “big hurdle” for them.

Given these challenges, SHE Investments and SME Hub Asia have developed a free seven-day, five sessions per day Khmer-language webinar via Zoom called “Women Digipreneurs Festival”, from November 27 to December 3, 2022, to address the issues, provide ideas and solutions for women entrepreneurs. The event is supported by USAID and Development Alternatives Incorporated.

Based on the organisation’s previous participations, most of the women-led micro- and SMEs are commonly involved in the food and beverage segment, followed by health and beauty products, with an employment of one to five staff.

Focusing on finance, operation, digital safety, and marketing and communication, the festival looks to onboard 1,000 participants over the duration of the programme.

Serving as a knowledge-building platform, they will be able to meet experts in the field and obtain practical guidance and methods to improve their business.

“It is the biggest digital event we have ever hosted. It’s not just women who require digitisation but also us. While responding to the support they need, we also need to upskill and be the catalyst in testing different possibilities of our support."

“With the support from our partners we are able to test this new concept, although there might be challenges. However, we want to take this opportunity to educate and assist women so that they can be exposed to different things and try something new,” Keolydeth said.

The programme line-up has topics offering tips on “understanding product value and setting optimal prices”, “managing inventory and maximising profit”, “acquiring and retaining loyal customers”, how to use Google spreadsheet, and many more.

Participants, though not limited to women only, are required to register at https://bit.ly/women_digipreneurs_festival_WDF and follow the sessions from there.