Heike Niemeier Systemischer Coach + Sexualberaterin

Empowerment of women in Cambodia

Support for young female entrepreneurs Siem Reap from July 31 to August 13, 2023.

After an extended flight, I finally arrive in Siem Reap on Saturday evening, where I am warmly welcomed into my favorite hotel, the Treeline Urban Resort - a familiarity that always puts a smile on my face.

The picture of the reception speaks volumes about the warm atmosphere.

After a refreshing visit to the pool and a delicate dinner, accompanied by a gentle glass of rosé, I allow myself a well-deserved night's rest.

Sunday morning greets me with the inevitable jet lag, but a delicious breakfast and the encounter with two hotel employees who recognize me from my previous stay and lovingly embrace me lift my spirits considerably. Such familiar gestures are balm for the soul.

Determined not to while away the day in bed, I set off on a relaxing walk and eventually find myself at Roxy, the city's most prestigious nail salon. Surprisingly, I snag an appointment, and as I take a seat and let my eyes wander, my gaze falls on a familiar face. The door swings open and to my surprise Marina, wide-eyed, asks, "Heike, what brings you here?" The same expression of astonishment is on my lips. Our paths had crossed years ago when I met her for an interview. At that time she had launched a BDSM dating platform deviance.app. A meeting in Frankfurt was the result. And now, here in Siem Reap, at the nail salon. What a bizarre twist of fate. Marina, who now writes for various media, including w&v, is bubbling over with ideas. After a dinner together, she shows great enthusiasm for the project that brought me here and expresses the desire to report on it.

In the period between October and November 2022, I had taken on the task of coaching Cambodian women entrepreneurs on behalf of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. Specifically, these were women who were members of the Cambodia Women Entrepreneurs Association (CWEA), as well as women from the field of public administration. In addition to individual coaching sessions, I also conducted workshops in which I provided the women with practical tips for personal empowerment - a form of practical, everyday "female empowerment."

I carried out this project together with Marie Hoffmann from GIZ, supported by her wonderful staff Rattana and Tola.

”With Heike's empathetic yet challenging methodology, she is able to coach women entrepreneurs to develop self-confidence, inner strength and focus on their vision, strategy and goals.“

Marie Hoffmann

And Marie says about the project:
„Women entrepreneurs are an integral part of Cambodia's business community and economic development. Many women entrepreneurs in Cambodia either have micro-enterprises or operate in the informal sector. This means that while there are many women entrepreneurs, there are still many barriers to establishing themselves as entrepreneurs and making their businesses thrive. That's why the GIZ-ICONE program empowers women to grow their businesses, develop skills, gain confidence, and gain strength and inspiration from other entrepreneurs. With Heike's empathetic yet challenging methodology, she is able to coach women entrepreneurs to develop self-confidence, inner strength and focus on their vision, strategy and goals.“

With this look my working days begin. It makes it easy to get up.

And after a visit to the pool and breakfast, I go to work by TukTuk.

Here I continue to work with the CWEA ladies in the coming days, both in Siem Reap and in Battambang.

The focus is on two tasks.

  • The further development of the Business Clinic. Women entrepreneurs develop programs for women founders to start their own business.
  • One-on-one coaching sessions in which the following aspects are the topic: Self-care as a success factor, setting priorities and boundaries, stress management and creative inspirations.

The following two weeks of working with the women were serious, funny, intense and sometimes frustrating at the same time. Frustrating not because the women do not cooperate - quite the opposite - but because the living conditions are simply sometimes enormously unfavorable: Credit debts, a traditional understanding of roles that is reflected in the extreme burden on women. And despite all these obstacles, there are incredible women entrepreneurs at work here. I could insert a long list here, but I will limit myself to three examples.

Mao Sophany is an admirable woman who has a positive impact on the community with her restaurant "Spoon". She creates apprenticeships for young people from socially disadvantaged families, which not only opens up educational opportunities but also improves the economic situation of these families. Through her initiative, she gives these young people the opportunity to develop professionally and improve their future prospects.

Ho Hong is another inspiring woman who, together with two other women, is setting up a guide and TukTuk service with only women. This is a significant achievement in a society where women are often kept in traditional roles. This initiative not only strengthens the economic independence of these women, but also helps to challenge gender stereotypes and strengthen the role of women in society.

Ra Ya and her husband have established a swimming school to address the problem of drowning in Cambodia. This is of great importance because learning to swim is a life-saving skill. Their swim school not only teaches the technique of swimming, but also emphasizes respect and trust. This shows that education and safety can go hand in hand and that lives can be saved through education and training.

It is fascinating to observe how these women design environments in which other people can flourish. This includes both the tangible physical spaces where education takes place and the emotional realms that provide space for self-care and personal growth. The fact that they have created such environments illustrates their determination and strong commitment to the well-being of their community.

Siem Reap Chapter CWEA

Overall, these stories are inspiring examples of how women are able to bring about positive change in their communities, whether through education, economic empowerment, or the advancement of life skills. These women have my full appreciation and support for their admirable efforts by leaving traditional paths behind.

Battambang Chapter CWEA

Respect, trust and humor were emphasized and I am very happy to have opened up spaces for the women that they have not entered before. For example, the space where they are there for themselves, take care of themselves and do something good for themselves alone.

In the individual coaching sessions, we not only dealt with the usual business topics, but also covered a wide range of personal development areas. In addition to the typical business aspects, we took an in-depth look at the importance of self-care as a critical success factor. This included strategies for nurturing one's own well-being and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Another important focus was on the ability to set clear priorities and define healthy boundaries. In addition, we discussed in detail the integration of "me-time" into everyday life. This involved how you can consciously take time for yourself to cultivate your own interests, hobbies and relaxation activities. This is crucial to being successful and satisfied in your professional career in the long term. Overall, the one-on-one coaching sessions were designed to help you not only with business issues, but also with your personal development and well-being.

I myself learned a lot that I was able to take back to Germany.

Heike Niemeier

I myself learned a lot that I was able to take back to Germany. The sincere openness and warmth with which all the ladies met me touched me deeply. The warmth I felt at every meeting, be it in the form of warm hugs, personal invitations or the sincere words like "we miss you Bong" and "when will we see you again", are for me the greatest compliment I can receive as a coach. These gestures and words show me that my work is not only appreciated, but it has also created a meaningful bond between us. I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart all the ladies who gave me these wonderful moments of openness, connection and appreciation.

And of course to the wonderful team on site, for the support, the space given to me and the many inspiring conversations and great moments we had together. Big thanks to Marie, Tola and Rattana and my translator Dara.

See you soon Marie in Berlin and I am curious what you have to report about our ladies.

My free days I spent to process experienced and Siem Reap to explore further. Of course, I have also used the wonderful spa offers of this city. My favorite is the Bodia Spa...simply wonderful. Not to mention the totally bizarre events, I'll just say Roxy and w&v. Wink.

You need support for your projects or have a personal request.

I am there for you!

You can reach me by phone at +49 176 324 389 56 or send me an email at hn@heike-niemeier.de.
I look forward to hearing from you.