Remarks by Chargé d’ Affaires Julie Chung at the Launch New Women’s Entrepreneurship Center

(As Prepared for Delivery)
WECREATE Cambodia Center, Phnom Penh
September 18, 2015

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies, and gentlemen. Good morning. It is a great honor to participate in the opening of this WECREATE Center. It is wonderful to see so many strong and dynamic women and men in the audience. The United States is proud to support the center’s mission of empowering the women of Cambodia through skills training, and mentoring education, to provide a solid foundation for women’s successful entrepreneurship in Cambodia.

I would like to first recognize and thank His Excellency Dr. Sok Siphana for his advocacy in promoting women’s entrepreneurship and engagement in the Lower Mekong Initiative. I would also like to thank our partners in this endeavor: Emerging Markets Consulting, StartUp Cup, and of course, the amazing staff of WECREATE | Cambodia. This WECREATE Center is not only the first in Cambodia; it is the first in all of Southeast Asia. This facility is not just about a physical building with walls but an epicenter for women entrepreneurs throughout the region to develop competitive and collaborative business activities to break glass ceilings. The center is poised to become a catalyst to improve connectivity among women in the five Lower Mekong Initiative member nations and with the rest of ASEAN. It is my hope that this is just the beginning, and many more will be established in the region.

WECREATE’s mandate of mentoring women entrepreneurs to evolve their ideas into working businesses will help Cambodia continue its steady economic growth. This center will also be a space to develop ideas to achieve greater economic empowerment for women within Cambodia, the ASEAN Economic Community, and globally. The resources that the WECREATE Cambodia Center gives women access to include:

  • Technology and education on how to use technology for business;
  • A supportive environment to develop a business;
  • Sector-specific programming such as agriculture, manufacturing, and information technology; and
  • Networking opportunities.

Women’s empowerment is a vital part of Cambodia’s continuing journey towards a middle-income country by 2030. This center, I hope, will be a key partner for reaching this target. Empowering women to pursue business ideas within this center will assist the Cambodian government and its goal to move up the value and manufacturing chain to be a fully contributing member of the ASEAN Economic Community, an important aspect of the Prime Minister’s Industrial Development Plan. The WECREATE project serves as a key mechanism towards this goal by promoting the entrepreneur spirit of self-reliance and investment. When I visited a local high school in Siem Reap earlier this year with First Lady Michelle Obama, I overheard the Khmer saying “satrey chea meada ney (pee pope loak),” or “women are the mothers of the world.” In other words, women are the future, and empowering them will ensure that our future is a bright one. Hearing the First Lady speak to students about her own background and family – which includes two daughters – and encouraging them to be strong in the face of adversity was an inspirational message for all of us, both women and men alike.

I encourage all women entrepreneurs to use the resources at WECREATE and to remember that you are not alone. Others have gone ahead of you; seek their advice. Speak up; if you are not heard, speak louder. Most importantly, this is your dream, so fight for it; but be willing to accept suggestions and guidance along the way. I am honored to join H.E. Dr. Sok Siphana and all of you in celebrating women’s empowerment and leadership with the opening of the WECREATE | CAMBODIA Center. I wish you success in all of your future endeavors. Thank you.