Local Small Businesses Help to Improve Sanitation

Friday 18 August 2017

Finding employment opportunities in Cambodia is not easy, especially in rural areas where work is seasonal and the pay is minimal. In 2013, with a $400 loan from a micro-finance institution, Mr. Kim Nol started a small side-business of making latrines for his village to generate extra income for his family. The business grew quickly and by the end of his first year he had hired five workers and purchased a truck, concrete molds and tools. 

In August 2015, Mr. Kim started to cooperate with USAID’s NOURISH project. NOURISH works to accelerate stunting reduction by focusing on key causal factors for chronic malnutritionpoverty, limited access to quality food and nutrition services, unsanitary environments, and practices that prevent optimal child growth and development. Collaborating with the private sector is one of strategies NOURISH is spearheading to create sustainable solutions that go beyond the life of the project. Through NOURISH, Mr. Kim received training on latrine component production and business management. He attended workshops on handling construction materials, record keeping, sales tracking, and recognizing trends. He participated in meetings with the local Government and learned from continuous coaching and support.  

By 2017, the number of people employed by Mr. Kim had grown to 20 and his clientele had expanded beyond his local village. He also started to diversify his product portfolio. As a result of NOURISH’s trainings and sanitation marketing materials, Mr. Kim is now confident to speak in public about the importance of sanitation and its impact on stunting. He helps people to plan their latrine purchase, and local customers now promote his services by word of mouth. Over time, he has established closer relationships with local Government representatives who also recognize the importance of sanitation. 

His monthly latrine sales have increased two fold since 2015. "Focus on business management, communication techniques and good product quality are key to success,” shares Mr. Kim. He also believes that “people going into this business should have a passion for what they do and a social contribution mindsetthese two factors are crucial, ahead of technical and business skills".  

In September 2016, at no cost to the project, NOURISH set up a Business Service Center (BSC) managed by Mr. Kim to build on his business acumen and willingness to share his success with others. The main purpose of the BSC is to stimulate growth of small local sanitation businesses by helping them to increase sales and profit. To do this, Mr. Kim holds monthly meetings with five local businesses to discuss market potential and strategies to align with Government development priorities. He assists BSC members with preparing business plans, complying with Government regulations, and connecting to credit options; and advises them on product diversification and bundling. To take advantage of pooled procurement, the BSC will soon purchase an environmentally-friendly brick-making machine that will help members to diversify their products and save money. This machine will ultimately allow members to sell cheaper latrines, which means more rural dwellers will be able to afford them.