Author: Paras Pappas

Paras cycles Cambodia to improve financial literacy for local people

Paras Pappas from our Property team starts a great leadership challenge today. She is cycling 325km to help improve the financial literacy of  Cambodian kids, so they can enjoy better living standards and make their lives greater.  

Mouy is a 31 year old mother of two. She cannot read or write. Most of her neighbours don’t know how to record their family’s income. Like them, Mouy earns less than $2 a day.

That is where the Credit Union Foundation of Australia (CUFA) comes in. Each year CUFA helps close to four million people in poor communities in Cambodia and the Asia Pacific region break out of poverty by providing them with knowledge, skills and resources. CUFA works with local communities to provide them with a safe place to save their money and knowledge on how to manage their finances in partnership with their local village savings banks. CUFA provides it services thanks to the support of customer owned banking institutions (building societies, credit unions and mutual banks) such as The Greater.

With CUFA’s support, Mouy is quickly grasping the concept of making her money grow. She and other members of a self help group have been depositing $2.50 a month into a fund. At a community training session run by CUFA Mouy suggested they loan that money out to members to grow that money.

Hearing Mouy's story is my inspiration as, today, I head off on a 13 day 2013 CUFA Cambodian Leadership Challenge (June 3 to 15) with eight other people who work for an Australian building society, credit union or mutual bank. As part of the challenge I have been raising funds for another CUFA program -  the Children's Financial Literacy Program. This program reaches more than 12,000 children each year giving them financial literacy education and a link to their nearby savings bank. It teaches kids the importance of saving for things such as new school uniforms, their education or to help their parents buy a tractor for their farms.

I haven't been on a bike much since I was a kid and I've never been to Cambodia, so cycling 325km around Cambodia is a bit daunting. The trip will definitely take me out of my comfort zone but I am always up for a challenge.

As part of the program I will also undertake 100 hours of voluntary work with local charities supported by The Greater too.