SHE began as an idea in 2013, when we wanted to find out why impact investment (investment into socially and environmentally impactful businesses) wasn’t trickling down to SME level, and particularly why women weren’t able to access investment or financing above microfinance as easily as men. We realised that in order to improve women’s economic empowerment, create sustainable long-term change, and eventually see more women with SMEs receiving investment, we needed to build an ecosystem that supported women to scale up from the informal micro economy, and create a pipeline of investment-ready businesses.
After 18 months of self-funded research and trips to Cambodia, our 3 co-founders launched 2 pilot programs in Cambodia; one in Phnom Penh, and one in Siem Reap, with 14 women micro-entrepreneurs in total. We funded these pilots by crowdfunding USD 14,000 from our network of very generous friends, family members, and kind strangers.
Fast-forward 4 years, and we have delivered more than 20 Incubator and Accelerator Programs around the country, built an awesome feminist team of 25 people in Cambodia, connected 15 businesses to small-scale finance (up to USD $10k), and are working towards our longer-term goal of facilitating investments of between USD 10,000 – 100,000. We’re working with major national and international partners such as NGOs, private sector, financial institutions, United Nations and government agencies to reach as many women as possible across the country.
Our team is made up of entrepreneurs, international development practitioners, trainers and facilitators, and experienced professionals across multiple sectors. We are a 90% Cambodian female team, with strong feminist values and a mission to support 1,000 women in Cambodia to scale their businesses in the next 5 years
Women run 65% of the businesses in Cambodia, but 96% of those businesses are micro-sized and engage less than 4 people. We aim to bridge the gender gap in the SME sector by scaling up women’s micro-small enterprises, supporting them to enter the formal economy, and create long-term social and economic impact through job creation and women’s economic empowerment.
We partner with local and international organisations, businesses and governments to build an ecosystem of support for women to take a step beyond “micro”. We provide business training, mentoring, consulting, financing and networking opportunities and services, for women from all business sizes and sectors.