WE Act supports young women entrepreneurs in Cambodia to register their businesses

November 2, 2021
Sophal at her pizza shop. Credit: WE Act

Pach Sophal, 32, runs a small, unregistered pizza and bakery shop in Battambang, Cambodia. Like most business owners, she wants to grow her business and earn more income for her family. That’s why she decided to take advantage of support from a local nonprofit, Village Support Group.

With funding from USAID through Pact’s WE Act project, Village Support Group has been implementing a project called Young Entrepreneurs Support to directly support 110 young entrepreneurs like Sophal across Battambang. Founded in 1994, VSG's mission is to empower youth economically in Battambang.

Sophal attended events and training sessions regularly through VSG, gradually improving her business by designing an attractive leaflet, advertising her products, starting a delivery service and asking for feedback to improve customer service. Her satisfied patrons praised her shop for its quality pizza, fair prices and good service.

But she soon ran into a problem. She noticed that her business trademark was being illegally copied by others, and she didn't know what to do.

“My customers did not know which product was the original one," Sophal says. She knew that legally registering her business could help her enforce her trademark, but she didn't know how to navigate the process.

"I thought that to register my business would cost me a lot and would be complicated with filing documents."

"I felt safe to run my business."

It's a barrier that many young women entrepreneurs face across Cambodia, which is why WE Act and VSG are working to change this, both by working with authorities to make the business registration process easier and by providing support to entrepreneurs to understand and undertake registration.

Sophal participated in a VSG socio-economic rights meeting with various stakeholders, including the local One Window Service office, a one-stop location for public services including business registrations. The meeting helped Sophal and other women entrepreneurs to raise their collective concerns with local authorities.

During the meeting, Sophal was happy to hear clear guidance from the director of the One Window Service office. “The director responded to my issue about the business registration process and the illegal copies of my business trademark," she says.

After the meeting, Sophal got her business registered, enabling her to protect her trademark.

“I paid less money for the service than I expected, and I felt safe to run my business," she says.

"I will share this business registration process with other women entrepreneurs."