Women Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Forum: Entrepreneurship and Inclusive Marketsaccess
On 24 August 2022, the Women Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Forum was co-organised by the Agile Development Group (Agile) and the Department of Welfares for Persons with Disabilities (DWPD) of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY). The forum aimed to raise public awareness on the socioeconomic contribution of women entrepreneurs with disabilities (WEDs) to society, introduce them to potential funding sources and economic opportunities as well as showcase products that their businesses have to offer.
A representative of the women entrepreneurs, Mrs Khhoun Socheata, a person with physical impairment, expressed her enthusiasm for the forum and eagerness to participate. After she joined Agile, she observed some changes, including more confidence, and increased skills in marketing, financial management, and building networks. She had the following message to convey to WEDs: “Do not be disappointed. You can do what others do. We walk slower, but we keep walking. Do not give up because of your disability.”
Mr Ian Jones, Executive Director of Agile Development Group, highlighted the barriers faced by WEDs in successfully establishing and running their businesses. He said that with support from the Australian Government through the Australia-Cambodia Cooperation for Equitable Sustainable Services (ACCESS) Program, Agile runs the Bodhi Tree Incubator and Accelerator program for WEDs to help them build businesses from the ground up and to enable businesses owned by WEDs to advance to the next level. Agile also takes further steps in raising awareness of WEDs‘ socioeconomic contribution across the Organisation of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) and across both small and medium sector enterprises , and other relevant government actors.
Mr Connor Floyd, Second Secretary of the Australian Embassy to Cambodia, stated in his remarks that through the ACCESS partnership with the Agile Development Group, women with disabilities have been supported and coached to elevate their business initiatives to their full potential. He added that the Government of Australia was proud to support this forum through the ACCESS Program to promote economic inclusion and improve access to economic opportunities for WEDs. This included receiving job/livelihood support, entrepreneurial initiatives, completion of the Agile entrepreneurship program and financial literacy training.
At the forum, H.E Sem Sokha, Secretary of State of MoSVY, appreciated the Australian Government for supporting Agile to develop training for women with disabilities aimed at improving their soft skills, such as building confidence and technical skills, including business management, thereby contributing to the implementation of the National Disability Strategic Plan 2019-2023.