Ou Sokphanna, who lost her leg to a landmine explosion, has faced significant discrimination preventing her from wage employment. Despite these challenges, she supports her three children and disabled husband as the family’s primary breadwinner. Raised without parents, Sokphanna has always been self-reliant and resilient.

Living in a small village near Siem Reap City, Sokphanna has turned to wood carving to support her family. “Starting my own business was a good option. I no longer face discrimination, I’m able to support my family, and I’ve grown in confidence,” she said. Previously, she sold noodles in the city but moved to the village due to discrimination and financial struggles. There, she developed her carving skills with her husband’s support and successfully sold her products at the local market.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted her business, forcing Sokphanna to take out a high-interest loan to survive. To help her manage debt and expand her business, the local NGO Vulnerability and Illiteracy Reduction (VIR), in partnership with ESCAP’s Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship programme, provided business development and financial literacy training, along with seed funding.

Through this support, Sokphanna learned about saving, budgeting, and market techniques, using the grant to invest in tools and materials. She has expanded her customer base and feels empowered to manage her finances. Looking ahead, Sokphanna plans to diversify her income by producing chopsticks and developing a mobile vending business. She also aims to collaborate with other women entrepreneurs in the community to start a local savings group, leveraging their collective knowledge and resources.