Ms. Luong Sophea grew up in a rural community where it is believed that women cannot run businesses by themselves, especially ones that require the use of power tools and concrete. But the 23-year-old single mother proved to the community that they were wrong.
As the oldest child, she dreamed of someday becoming a business woman within her local community so she could give a helping hand to her parents as they got older. At first, her dream seemed unattainable. With only a 6th grade education, she was reluctant to take any risks or challenge herself. Even her family assumed she would become a housewife.
In 2020, she saw an opportunity to take a step toward the life she wanted. She decided to partner with iDE to learn how to be a toilet business owner. Sophea was not afraid to get her hands dirty, mixing cement and installing toilets.
The most challenging part to her was managing and communicating with staff who are much older than her. To grow her business, she needed a boost in confidence. Once more, she turned to iDE to gain new skills in communication. She signed up for a business incubation program designed to prepare young women entrepreneurs to overcome management challenges.
Three years and 475 latrines later, she is making a profit of USD 600 per month and employing 6 laborers.
“I could not believe that I could go this far. I am content with my business, as I can provide products and services that are essential for everyone’s health and wellbeing, and I am creating jobs for a few families though not many. Equally important, I could challenge myself and prove that women can manage a business all by herself.
What's next for Sophea:
As her business grows bigger, she finds that the English language is a new barrier for her. When she needs to transfer funds between banks, she cannot read the name of the receiver or sender that is written in English.
“I could not believe that I could go this far. I am content with my business, as I can provide products and services that are essential for everyone’s health and wellbeing, and I am creating jobs for a few families though not many. Equally important, I could challenge myself and prove that women can manage a business all by herself.” —Sophea
- Water, Sanitation & Hygiene
- Local Distribution & Sales
- Job Creation
- Local Economic Development
- Food & Nutrition Security
- Water Security
- Environmental Protection