2019 Women Trading Globally Participant Empowering Cambodian Women Through Employment
In 2019, Simheang Tex of Kei Meas, Cambodia, participated in the Australia Awards Women Trading Globally program along with 14 fellow participants from South East Asia and Mongolia. Simheang shares her inspiring story with us below.
Founder / Managing Director
Simheang established her company because she wanted to do business that can empower women. By providing work to her female staff, she hopes to build their financial independence. Through her textiles and clothing business Kei Meas, Simheang also hopes to protect the planet by using natural dye and hand weaving processes (her products are 100% handmade and natural).
What drove Simheang to commence international expansion was the need to find a larger market than the domestic market in Cambodia, even before COVID-19. Simheang explains, “it is difficult for a lot of mothers in Cambodia to find a job to do at home. That’s why I try to find a big market so I can help mothers by offering work that allows them time to take care of their children at home. That way they can make more income to provide for their family financially, and ensure they have enough money for their children to go to school.”
Simheang’s latest initiative is her Lotus Silk and Kapok project due for launch in 2021. Cambodia has many lotus farms and kapok plants which can be used to make natural fabrics. She employs a team of mothers who use natural dyes, living in Kompongchhnang Province and Kompongcham Province. Through this, Simheang is able to help more mothers and empower women in regional Cambodia.
She has read many books that say, “if we have clear visions and goals, we will succeed with what we are doing if we don’t give up”.
Her company Kei Meas is ready to export a variety of textiles including silk clothes, silk fabric, silk scarfs, lotus silk scarfs, kapok fabric and scarfs, and men’s and women’s clothes. As a result of participating in the Women Trading Globally program, Simheang has had some successes in her business including joining an exhibition in China, resulting in the sales of some products to China. She has already created additional new products and designs to provide to clients. Simheang is currently trying her best to find partners to distribute her products to Australia and other overseas markets.
Simheang remains committed to her staff during COVID-19. Although her company has lost money, she knows her weaving team needs money to provide for their families, so she has continued to pay their salaries. It has been an emotionally challenging time for her, but Simheang is staying optimistic and is trying to learn more new things to improve her knowledge to run her business better, and she has had more time to spend with her daughter.
Simheang is thankful to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for this program “that can help a lot of women entrepreneurs in South East Asia”. She also thanks the Export Council of Australia including all facilitators and team.
“By participating in the Women Trading Globally program, I now have more self-confidence, passion and energy to run my business despite the challenges. I know more about how to choose the right products for the right international market, how to produce more good products to supply, how to process export documents, how to expand my company, and how to manage relationships with other people in different country. I know more about being a real entrepreneur.” – Simheang Tex, Kei Meas