Local sanitation businesses come together to improve sanitation in rural areas of Cambodia

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Seeing a business opportunity in rural sanitation, Mr Kim Nol, in 2013, took out a US$ 400 loan from a micro-finance institution to start a small latrine business to generate extra income for his family. His business has grown since then. By the end of his first year, he has hired five workers, and bought a truck, concrete moulds and tools. Today, the number of his employees has grown to 20.

In August 2015, Mr Nol, who is based in Siem Reap province, Cambodia, started to work with USAID’s Integrated Nutrition, Hygiene, and Sanitation (NOURISH) project. NOURISH works to accelerate efforts to reduce stunting by focusing on key causal factors of chronic malnutrition: poverty, limited access to quality food and nutrition services, unsanitary environments, and practices that work against optimal child growth and development. Collaborating with the private sector is one strategy that NOURISH is spearheading to create sustainable solutions that go beyond the life of the project.

Through NOURISH, Mr Nol received trainings in producing latrine components, and business management. He also attended workshops in construction materials handling, record keeping, tracking sales, and recognising business trends. He participated in meetings with the local government and learned tirelessly from continuous coaching.

Bricks produced by Mr Nol's newly procured brick-making machine

Bricks produced by Mr Nol's newly procured brick-making machine

Coaching 101 with Mr Nol on the lead

Coaching 101 with Mr Nol on the lead

Today, the number of his employees has grown to 20. His clientele have expanded beyond local villages. And, he has started to diversify his product portfolio. As a result of NOURISH’s trainings and sanitation marketing guidance, Mr Nol is more confident to speak in public about the importance of sanitation and its impact on stunting. He has established close relationships within the local government, and with government authorities, promotes the importance of sanitation.

Mr Nol’s monthly latrine sales have increased twofold since 2015. ‘Focus on business management, communication techniques, and good product quality are key to success,’ he said. But he also believes that ‘people going into this business should have a passion for what they do and a social contribution mindset. These two factors are crucial before technical and business skills.’

Building on Mr Nol’s business acumen and willingness to share his success with others, in September 2016, NOURISH set up a Business Service Centre that Mr Nol manages at no cost to the project. The centre aims to stimulate the growth of local small sanitation businesses by helping them increase their sales and profit. To do this, Mr Nol holds monthly meetings with five local businesses to discuss market potential and strategies to align with government development priorities. He offers assistance in the preparation of business plans and compliance with government regulations. He helps connect businesses with credit options and advises them on product diversification and bundling. To take advantage of the pooled procurement made possible by this cooperation, the centre has bought an environment-friendly brick-making machine to help members of the centre diversify their products and save money.

Authored by: Sunetra Lala

Photos: Sophorn Ngy