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Listening to Cambodian young women entrepreneurs

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Women own an estimated 61 percent of businesses in Cambodia, but when it comes to larger businesses – those with 10 or more employees – that number drops to just 26 percent. And less than 2 percent of women’s businesses are formally registered with the government. There is a significant gender gap in the small-medium enterprise (SME) sector and the entrepreneurial landscape in Cambodia, even though women are heavily represented at the micro-enterprise level. Why are women not operating larger businesses? What support is needed for women-led enterprises to move beyond the micro stage? And very importantly, what is the perspective of those very women about the opportunities and barriers that they face?

This study was conducted by SHE Investments for the WE Act project. Through focus group discussions and surveys, researchers gathered insights from young Cambodian women entrepreneurs, with a goal of engaging them in the design and development of future disruption of Cambodia’s current entrepreneurial landscape. We used a women’s empowerment framework to explore three key areas: resources, agency, and, as an outcome of these, achievements. This report is a summary of the key points that emerged from our broader findings.

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