NGOs set to fund 120 women street vendors

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Meat and vegetable vendors at Phsar Chas Market in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district. Hong Menea

A total of 120 women street vendors – 39 in the capital and 81 in the provinces of Battambang, Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk – have been selected to receive undisclosed amounts of funds to support their businesses during Covid-19, NGOs involved in the scheme said in a joint statement.

These are Pact Cambodia, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Advocacy and Policy Institute (API), Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) and Coalition for Partnership in Democratic Development (CPDD).

The NGOs said street vending accounts for the majority of businesses in Cambodia, but noted that the occupations have not been strategically prioritised.

There are about 62,780 street vendors in the Kingdom – 16,419 based in the capital and 75 per cent of them women – accounting for 3.75 per cent of the 1,673,390 registered persons engaged in different forms of business, they said. The figures match data from the 2011 Economic Census of Cambodia.

Although the street vending sector plays an important role in job creation, work opportunities and socio-economic development, individual merchants are still bereft of adequate legal protections, resulting in exploitation and limited access to social benefits, according to the NGOs.

They said the API, CPDD and IDEA are implementing a project called “Voices and Actions of Young Women Leaders and Entrepreneurs” to boost young women’s capacities and participation in dialogues with authorities, to foster equal opportunities for the exercise of rights.

The NGOs added that the funds would “undergird the recovery of IDEA members who are young women street vendors, to protect their small businesses from going under”.