In Cambodia, LGBTI people face bullying at school and economic hardship because of family rejection. This reality of discrimination means that LGBTI students have higher school dropout rates than the overall student population. It also leads to LGBTI youth gaining limited knowledge and skills, and having access to fewer job opportunities. Because of discrimination, LGBTI Cambodians do not feel comfortable being open about their sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace.
Against this scenario, Micro Rainbow continues to build its programme to end poverty among LGBTI people in Cambodia. On 9 September 2017, MRI organized the third monthly meeting for those LGBTI people who want to set up a small income-generating activity to step out of poverty. The focus of this meeting was training the participants on selling techniques and peer-to-peer support, including sharing business experiences between those LGBTI people who have already started a small business in Phnom Penh. This is a very important and unique space because participants are able to access the expertise of a trainer from a supportive micro-finance institution partner of MRI and the experience of other LGBTI business owners.
Participants in the workshop said that some of the main challenges after setting up small businesses are lack of skills, knowledge, or experience in selling. They also said that receiving support in developing their business ideas, in selling strategically and hearing the experiences of other small business owners, both about success and failure, was extremely beneficial.
Kuy Thida, a small business owner supported by MRI said “promoting economic empowerment among the LGBTI community is the way to achieve positive changes in social attitudes. We have jobs, so people define us as good citizens”.