Letter from Kampot

Jean-Yves Dekeister, who owns Les Manguiers together with his wife Phear, is involved with a local NGO called Samaki. Samaki helps local poor families in the Kampot region so that they can live better lives. Today, two Samaki staff took our family to visit one of the households that Samaki supports.

The family is a Chinese-Khmer family that lives close to Vy’s place. The family supports itself through a micro-enterprise weaving bamboo baskets. The family consists of two adults and their three children. Here is what we saw as we visited.

The 14 year-old daughter and the mother were weaving bamboo baskets. The mother was cutting the bamboo and the daughter was weaving it. In a day, the family makes around 50 baskets. Once 100 baskets are ready, they are shipped to market where they are sold for USD 0.13 each.

image image

Ida and Saga each tried weaving. They had a great instructor!

image image

This family has been with Samaki for about four years. Four months ago, the family built itself a new home. The new place is made of sheet metal with green walls:


Their old house (still in use) is made of palm and thatch:


As a thought experiment, I wanted to try and estimate the poverty level of the household that we visited. One way of doing so is by using the Grameen Foundation’s Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI). The PPI helps organisations understand the poverty profile of the clients they serve. PPIs are available from progressoutofpoverty.org and the tool is explained on that site.

(Note: I’ll try not to get too technical here) The PPI® is a poverty measurement tool [that] is statistically-sound, yet simple to use: the answers to 10 questions about a household’s characteristics […] are scored to compute the likelihood that the household is living below the poverty line […].

There is a PPI for Cambodia. The latest version of the PPI for Cambodia was created in February 2015 by Mark Schreiner of Microfinance Risk Management, L.L.C., developer of the PPI. Indicators in the PPI for Cambodia are based on the 2011 Socio-Economic Survey of Cambodia.

Some of what the Cambodia PPI takes into account include:

  • The number of family members in the household
  • The building materials used for the roof and the walls
  • The number of cell phones the household uses

Basically, if we know the answers to these questions, we can estimate how poor the household is.

While we didn’t have the answers to all of the questions, we are able to estimate that the household is very likely living on less than $2.50 per day. Interestingly, I’ve read that the average Cambodian household earns $950 per year, which translates into just over $2.50 per day.

This visit was certainly an eye-opening experience for Ida and Saga.

4 thoughts on “Letter from Kampot

  1. Good morning everyone. 🙂 Ida and Saga, Your parents may be educating you (indirectly) to be micro finance experts for developing countries when you get older and have your own careers. ……………:-) We are off to Turkey today. I met with people from the Ministry of Community and Social Services yesterday, actually demanding now, answers to requests for annualized support for our staff member and adding another staff, and creating a province wide long-term residential funding stream for families who have proven their son or daughter who has an ID can live independently, with support (like our 5 year families). Then our families can leave our funding and know that the gov will pick them up. I put a time line on answers ………we will see. Doug has your measuring skills and has been amazing getting numbers from CLToronto staff for us always. Hugs, Mp

    Mary Pat Armstrong 95A Roxborough St. E. Toronto, ON, M4W 1V9 416-922-4812 mary-pat-armstrong@rogers.com


  2. Really enjoying your blog Nige. Thanks for keeping us in the loop….

    Question – where do the baskets go after they are sold by the family? And is there a tremendous markup at the next phase?

    Stay dry.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s