By: Kylie Foley
Sim Song is a tiny woman who methodically goes through the steps to turn on her rice mill.
She smiles as the bulky machine lights up and starts processing the rice. Sim Song’s family are three-time loan-recipients from World Vision’s micro finance subsidiary Vision Fund Cambodia. Sim’s various means of income are a testament to her and her husband’s hard work to provide for them and their two children.
“We lived hand to mouth before”, her husband Sophal mentioned. He used to have to migrate to other provinces to earn money that just covered daily expenses for the family. After receiving services from World Vision in their village and having their daughter Sahn Sre Nan sponsored, the family applied for their first $50 loan. Sophal and Sim both state that the loans helped immediately because Sophal didn’t have to leave any longer. They say that their two young children are enough for them; they’re dedicated to building a better family, not necessarily a bigger one.
Their businesses vary. The family runs a grocery store in front of their house off of the main road to their village. They sell everyday items as well as lunch food, and their “gas station” (a table with liter soda bottles filled with gas) out front brings in a large part of their daily income. With the Vision Fund loans they were able to buy farmland, raise and sell pigs and cows, and run the rice mill that Sim is so diligently watching at the moment. They charge others in the village to use it and sell the extra rice for fuel.
There’s a lot to be said about the multiple benefits of a single loan to a hard working family. The Song family is able to provide groceries to their community, before one had to take a motorbike into the next village for any essentials. Neighbors know their success story and are able to see the changes in the family. But one of the most striking benefits that has come from the loans is the sustainable and smart decisions the family has made. Though Sim and Sophal can both read and write, their rural location usually makes it difficult to have the knowledge to run your own successful business. Vision Fund loan officers educated them on how to smartly borrow money and how to generate income from those loans. Not only are the Songs able to provide for their family, but Sim is sometimes able to save as much as $5 a week! She uses the savings to pay back their current loan and for future expenses and her children’s education.
No doubt the Song family was as hard-working and resourceful before their loans as they are now. Micro finance is beautiful in that it gives families the capital and knowledge to provide for their own families. Micro lending institutions like World Vision’s Vision Fund partner with families who are rising on their own up the economic ladder and just give them a boost. Simply put, World Vision works to put families in a place where they won’t need World Vision anymore. As Sophal gently holds his sleeping son and Sim quickly turns off her rice mill, it is clear that these small loans turn into swift actions that dramatically change lives, families, and communities.
A group of young creative activists who met Sim and Sophal and others in Cambodia created our new campaign: ACT:S+MICRO, to tell her story and the stories of other entrepreneurs whose lives are being transformed through microloans. Together they’re challenging groups across the nation to learn about microfinance, tell their stories, and work together to fund an entrepreneur. Learn more, see the film, and order resources at worldvisionmicro.org/acts.
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