We founded Catalyst Microfranchising after living in South East Asia and seeing first-hand the daily struggle the ultra poor face in meeting their basic needs.
Although Cambodia is a fast-developing, dynamic country, 57% of Cambodians still live on less than US$2.00 per day, and 90% of Cambodia's poor live in rural areas which lack even the most basic of infrastructure, a legacy of three decades of civil war and unrest.
After running a small-scale microloan programme in 2009, we found that people struggled to pay back even small microloans. So we abandoned our assumptions about what the ultra poor needed, and what was standard practice in the aid sector, and instead spent a large amount of time talking to people about what they actually needed and wanted.
We then developed a locally-led programme over several years which focuses on the needs of the microentrepreneur. Fundamentally the ultra poor need profitable business ideas, skills training and help accessing markets to be successful.
Our ultimate goal is to strengthen rural communities by creating opportunities for the ultra poor to move above the poverty line.
Gerard & Hana