Summit of Leaders of Saving Associations for Self-Reliance
On November 05th and 06th, the Centre d’Etude et de Développement Agricole Cambodgien (CEDAC; an NGO) and Farmer and Nature Net, a village-based agriculture association, hosted the “Summit of Leaders of Saving Associations for Self-Reliance” at CEDAC’smain office in Phnom Penh. More than 110 participants representing saving associations in 10 provinces attended the event to report on their progress, strengthen their cooperation, and share future visions.
Dr. Yang Saing Koma, President of CEDAC and this year’s recipient of the coveted Ramon Magsaysay Award (Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize), welcomed the participants and in his speech reflected on the current social and economic developments in Cambodia. He highlighted positive trends such as improvements of the country’s banking system and their effects on economic growth in Cambodia.
Following Dr Koma’s welcoming remarks, Mr. Khim Sophanna, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation’s representative in Cambodia, addressed the delegates. He appreciated that so many people undertook the long journey to the capital and encouraged all participants to continue their good work and cooperation, and wished them a fruitful workshop. Ultimately, according to Mr. Sophanna, the hard work would pay off and lead to more financial freedom of the respective associations and their members.
In the course of the workshop the participants prepared in groups the reports of their respective saving associations which were later presented during the plenary discussion. During this discussion, a number of association leaders gave presentations about the development of their respective organizations and shared best practices with the other delegates.
In retrospect, the summit was highly successful. The participants appreciated the opportunity to broaden their knowledge and exchange experiences with other saving associations from all over Cambodia. The lessons learned from this two-day meeting will prove to be an invaluable contribution to the development of the various Cambodian communities. Building on the success of this year’s workshop, another meeting in January is already in the making.
Based on successful experience of CEDAC staff’s saving group since 1997, we started to introduce this idea to the local communities. It is important to note the first saving groups were established around 2004-2005, supported by donors and CEDAC. Though the development projects come to an end, these saving associations are still active and strong. Since then more than 2,500 saving groups/associations have been active in 1,550 villages (out of 15,500 villages) , 315 communes (1,631), 73 districts (183) and in 16 provinces (24 provinces). The generated saving capital is 51,673,679,208 KHR or about U$ 12,918,419.80.
(This article is drafted by Kok Tha; edited by Khim Sophanna and Miklos Romandy for FNF’s Regional website)