Small Market Vendors Squeezed by High Government Tax

Psar Nath is the main market in Battambang town built by the French in the 1960’s. Early this week, over 200 vendors, mainly women marched to the office of the provincial governor. The governor has increased the rental of the stalls while business is slow. Over 1,000 vendors rent stalls at the market.

Stories I heard when visiting the markets are similar from stall to stall. The business is slow. Farmers have less money to spend. Civil servants and workers can not afford to buy goods. The high price of gasoline is another factor affecting to the hard times of the market vendors.

The market has no proper toilet facilities. Some vendors who can not afford to pay the extra dime for each time they use the private toilet facility must be creative and build a corner in their small stall that is hidden by a plastic curtain. To women, this is shame.

There is a felt level of fear among those vendors who have spoken up. After I left the market, one of the most outspoken vendors was approached by the head of the market committee and scolded by the rest of the fearful vendors for having told me the truth.

The issue will be raised at the next meeting with the governor by my local teams. We will continue to visit the vendors and inform them of their rights and engage them in developing strategies to continue the dialogue with the office of the governor.


3 responses to “Small Market Vendors Squeezed by High Government Tax

  1. Hi Mu Sochua,
    My name is Bryan Farris. I hope you’re doing well. I’m very interested in partnering with microfinance institutions in Cambodia to help citizens (like the small market vendors you discuss in this post) rise out of poverty.

    I’m also an alumus of UC Berkeley and a big supporter of women’s rights. I’ve scoured the internet for a way to contact you directly but have been unsuccessful and hope that you’ll find this comment on your blog. The reason I’m interested in reaching you is because I think that our interests in Cambodia’s people are similar and my work in that regard would very much benefit from your opinion on a few topics.

    I imagine you are very busy, but if you are willing to, I’d love to talk to you or ask you a few questions over email. You can reach me at

    Thank you,

    • Thank you for your offer to help.

      There are plenty of MFIs in Cambodia. The problem is that for the poor, MFIs is not enough. They need skills training and business management.
      I am very intereested in getting your help.

      How do you plan to offer it?

      Will you come to Cambodia ?

  2. My interest is in buttressing the (relatively new) savings options that some MFIs have received licenses for. The reason is that savings can often achieve the same goal as a loan, but without the risk of over indebtedness.

    I agree that skills training & business management courses are critical. A number of MFIs around the world have made participation in skills training a requirement to receive a loan. Do most MFIs in Cambodia not offer financial education? If so, do you think that limits the impact that microfinance is having?

    Also, there was a recent article in the NY Times ( that mentioned a law that will have a negative impact on NGOs working in Cambodia. Do you think thats something I should be concerned about? I’m curious what your take is & whether the law passed.

    Nothing is confirmed yet, but I’m hoping to visit Cambodia in November.

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