Imagine trying to find buyers for a batch of 800 chickens in one 'fowl' swoop - that was the problem local field manager, Phirun Oum, was tasked with at the end of every chicken cycle. It's fair to say a few feathers were getting ruffled in the process.
Now, in a quantum leap forward we've just nailed daily supply! We've managed to switch from sporadic large-batch sales, to selling up to 30 chickens each day, all made possible by the new production coops at the microfarm.
We're egg-static that Phirun's hard work's paid off and we've now got five happy customers regularly buying from us. Three of these customers sell fried chicken on one of the busy highways from the capital city to the flourishing southern coast.
As Phirun explains, "daily supply cuts out unscrupulous middle-men and we get better prices for the franchisees as we keep our customers". Regular customers also know that by choosing Catalyst chickens they're helping the poor in their community (franchisees receive 100% of the profits for the chickens they've raised).
In Cambodia to explore market opportunities in the NGO restaurant sector, Gerard accompanied Phirun on a recent profit payment trip to group seven franchisees. Happy to receive their profits, they expressed new-found hope for their future, and had only one question for Gerard: "When can we raise more chickens at a time so we make more profit?".
Over time, they'll raise increasing numbers of chickens, but to decrease their business risk they start small.
Without the programme, Muth Sinath and Chrun Vannak (pictured above receiving their profit payments) wouldn't have access to fast growing commercial-breed chickens, as the chicks are normally only sold to large-scale producers in Cambodia.
Franchisee profile - Chrun Vannak
Chrun Vannak used to be a builder until a cow charged into his back a year and a half ago in a rice paddy, tragically leaving him paralysed and unable to work. The family borrowed money to pay his USD$6,000 medical costs while he was in hospital, vulnerable to unethical doctors who repeatedly told him if he stayed just "one more week" he would be able to walk again. He has two steel rods in his back and the same doctors are now advising him that he will walk again if the steel rods are removed, for which he would be charged another $600.
Back home after the accident with four children to support and only $7.00 in savings things seemed bleak. His younger children weren't able to attend school regularly as the only household income was from growing rice on three hectares of land.
But last year he became a franchisee, once again able to contribute to household income. So far he's raised 157 chickens and earned a valuable profit of NZ$83.00, giving him renewed hope for the future.
Five things you didn't know about Cambodia
We founded Catalyst social enterprise after living in South East Asia and seeing first-hand the daily struggle rural villagers face in meeting their basic needs.