From 10-12 October 2018, Micro Rainbow Cambodia participated in the Finance Inc. inception meeting organized by APCOM in Bali, Indonesia.
The Finance Inc. project aims to lobby and advocate the Asian Development Bank to take a more comprehensive approach to SOGIE inclusion throughout the organization’s management and operations.
In South East Asia, discrimination against LGBTI people happens every day. Some places in the region actively discourage LGBTI persons from applying for jobs, others fail to employ them following an interview. Employers do not value the capability of a person, choosing rather to discriminate against them because of their gender identity, sexual orientation and gender expression.
Micro Rainbow Cambodia supports LGBTI people who live in poverty to access training, mentoring and financial resources to set up small income generating activities. Often LGBTI people in Cambodia are rejected by their families and communities and struggle to make a living. Such income generating activities help LGBTI people to be financially independent and step out of poverty. Micro Rainbow Cambodia applies an innovative financial inclusion model which includes key partnerships with the private sector and financial institutions.
The meeting was an opportunity for Micro Rainbow Cambodia to share information on its poverty reduction programme for LGBTI people in Cambodia. We talked about programme activities, some of the challenges we face, and some of the solutions and lessons learnt. The event was attended by activists from Indonesia, Laos PDR, and The Philippines. Economic empowerment for LGBTI people is a relatively new topic for the region, and the inception meeting coincided with the World Bank Civil Society Policy Forum (CSPF). APCOM was able to secure a session at the CSPF for Micro Rainbow to provide an analysis on the situation for LGBTI people in Cambodia, especially on their financial inclusion. The CSPF session was an opportunity for the participants to learn and get pointers from the World Bank which is integrating SOGI into their work. The session also contributed to finding project partners in the planning sessions for Finance, Inc.
APCOM plans to support project partners with small grants in 2019. Partners, including Micro Rainbow Cambodia, will develop their activities and may include a poverty reduction programme in their work plan. Given our extensive experience on poverty reduction of LGBTI people, participants recommended Micro Rainbow Cambodia become a mentor for other partners on financial inclusion of LGBTI people.
We at Micro Rainbow Cambodia are keen to engage in this project and to assist the Asian Development Bank to be more inclusive of LGBTI issues in its programming. We are particularly excited at the prospect of supporting other countries in developing poverty reduction strategies for the benefit of LGBTI people.