Holcim Vietnam, Vietnam: Numthnol - Traditional baking generates income for Khmer women.

Holcim Vietnam, Vietnam: Numthnol - Traditional baking generates income for Khmer women

Although the Khmer ethnic group in the Ba Trai hamlet has received much support from the local government at all levels which resulted in better social and economic conditions, no long term and community-based plan has been introduced to the group so far. The production of Numthnol - a traditional Khmer cake prepared from ingredients of the palm-coconut tree - has been a typical profession for local Khmer women for years. In coordination with the Women's Union at district and commune level, Holcim Vietnam identified the promotion of this traditional cake business as an income generation vehicle to support local women while reviving the traditional cultural identity within the community. A project plan focused on improving the family income of Khmer local poor, based on their traditional values, was developed and submitted to Holcim Vietnam in early 2008. The project started in April 2008.

Khmer women poor group received Numthnol baking equipment from Holcim Vietnam Ltd.

  • To support the Khmer community in Ba Trai hamlet, Binh An commune, to increase the family income generation through the traditional cake business.

10Khmer women received baking equipment together with training on optimal technical and hygienic processes to improve the quality of Numthnol while preserving their cultural identity to attract more customers at the local tourism destinations. With the help of the local Women's Union, a gender awareness course was incorporated in the project and attended by the women and their husbands. The legal rights of women in society and equitable distribution of household work are the major topics of concern.

15 women received no-interest loans and additional 25 women were provided with loans and equipment, helping them start individual businesses, all of which involve making Numthnol traditional cakes with ingredients from the coconut palm tree (Palmyra palm), which are sold to tourists. Training in modern management and marketing have helped the women build solidarity among their group and realize the benefits of healthy competition. Hygienic methods of production and a consistent quality of product have both led to increased customer trust.

Numthnol group members at the monthly group meeting when they deposit their savings, repayment and share daily life experiences.

The second focus of the project is to restore traditional Khmer culture. Local artists with high credibility were invited to be in charge of restoring ethnic musical performances and communicating these to the local youth. They also composed new dance items for the community, combining music and folk songs. A gala was held to introduce the legend of the Numthnol cakes and exchange experiences between musical bands in the district.

The Numthnol project was expanded, the number of participants was increased to twenty with a revolving fund from loan repayment. Income from Numthnol selling is now more stable thanks to a healthy competition, market expansion and group solidarity. In order to maintain and improve project operations, a monthly group meeting is held. More importantly, there is a stronger recognition from local people towards the role of women as a result of their contribution to the development and maintenance of traditional values and the community cohesion through Khmer music. The local music band regularly performs Khmer dances at local tourist restaurants.