National Conference - Community Saving Groups: A Transformational Development beyond Business as Usual

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 -
01:00 to 10:00

Introduction

The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) aims to improve living standards and alleviate poverty in rural areas through promotion of agriculture and rural development sector. It has the mandate to coordinate, evaluate and implement rural development projects and programs. The MRD’s interventions contribute to economic development of the country through improvement in the agricultural production, rural infrastructure, market opportunities and rural livelihoods. The poor rural people benefit greatly from the delivery of strong rural infrastructure and building capacity for alternative businesses to improve their livelihoods. The MRD’s response also enable smallholder farmers to become resilient to the impacts of flood and drought.

The department of rural economic development (DoRED) is one of MRD’s technical departments and is responsible for providing technical assistance and ensuring sustainability of the saving groups for community development. The department continues to explore in activities to mobilize communities and provide them with vocational training to improve livelihoods. The DoRED is currently collaborating with relevant Government’s departments, INGOs, NGOs, civil society, and private sector to support for the sustainability of community saving groups in most of provinces across the country. The community saving groups activities has been successfully achieved growth of household incomes from small loans for agricultural activities and family businesses locally.

On 06 May 2016, the DoRED of MRD organized a national forum on “Financial Innovations for Rural Economic Development”. There had been keys take-away to be considered which has been raised and concluded at the forum including:

  • The participants gain knowledge, experiences, and best practices on community saving groups through presentations and discussions;
  • Understanding about consequences of multi-loans from MFIs and other credit operators and the importance of community savings;
  • INGOs/NGOs and communities suggested MRD to continue supporting community saving groups on sustainability; and
  • MRD, relevant Government departments and partner organizations continues to collaborate on community saving groups for improvements.

The DoRED of MRD this year initiates a national conference to consult together formally on discussion, interchange of views on “A Transformational Development beyond Business as Usual of Community Saving Groups”. The DoRED is now calling for collaboration from INGOs, NGOs, civil society and private sector who are currently working on community saving groups and leveraging impacts to promote for livelihood alternative. The DoRED is hopeful that the national conference would bring a promising future starting from financial inclusion to the rural poor families through various options on rural entrepreneurship towards agricultural and non-agricultural businesses for their income generation activities in Cambodia.

Conference purpose

Maintaining the momentum on community saving groups support and facilitation, the DoRED of MRD has initiated this follow-up conference which aims to facilitate and provide a platform for all relevant stakeholders to discuss on the future of community saving groups in Cambodia as well as necessary steps to support saving groups for a long term sustainable future either through conservative or innovative approach.

Expected outcomes

  • to strategize approaches or tools to improve livelihoods of saving groups’ members through agricultural production and non-agricultural production income;
  • to explore linkage opportunities for women entrepreneurs to market and value chain in economic development interventions;
  • to build a common vision towards the future of savings groups and the establishment of a national platform/network among saving group practitioners.

Participants

We anticipate approximately 150 participants from:

  • MRD’s officials from departments at national and subnational level and relevant government officials from middle management to technical experts;
  • INGOs, NGOs & their local partners delivering services to support saving groups in challenging communities;
  • Local saving group committee/members/practitioners (communities);
  • Private sector, especially Agriculture Business Companies/Firms, Entrepreneurs, MFIs and Banks;
  • Research institutions, academics, and professionals from Agriculture, Social and Economic.

Conference’s themes

Theme 1: Strategize approaches or tools to improve livelihoods of saving groups’ members through agricultural production and non-agricultural production income— This theme shall be presented by key practitioners or key players on innovation and opportunity saving group enhance their livelihood options towards production-related activities in agriculture sector where scale can more easily be achieved and addressed market constraints through these new entry points. The session also discusses on challenges, required supports from duty bearers and stakeholders to ensure that saving groups could achieve benefits beyond money saving and microloan.

Theme 2: Women entrepreneurs to market and value chain in economic development interventions— Women living in poverty occupy a large and growing role in agricultural production and other business sectors in developing countries, especially Cambodia. Key speakers shall bring discussions of how women entrepreneurs are potentially cognizant of the changing landscape of economic development as results of their businesses operated and what challenge that female entrepreneurs face or are likely to face in effectively participating in market through connecting to local, or regional value chains.

Theme 3: Making markets work for smallholder farmers resilience—This session shall be covered recent evidence and examples from NGOs, university, and/or private sector showing the importance of market system in farmer livelihood development. The key speakers shall present how the program or project can support the role that market systems play; methods for working with different economic actors to support smallholder farmers engagement with markets; market interventions and market-based coping and ongoing efforts to improve the approaches.

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