(Umpiem Mai)

New micro-entrepreneur Kay Lee deftly serves a series of customers at her food shop while explaining how she has succeeded in improving the financial situation of her household.

The mother of four came to Umpiem Mai camp in 2010 to escape conflict and persecution. At the start, she worked mainly at carrying heavy sacks of potatoes in surrounding village farms, for around 100 baht a day.

It was grueling work and only available sporadically. There was a constant risk of arrest. Kay Lee needed another way to earn money.

After joining TBC’s Entrepreneurship Development Programme, the energetic mother began to learn about how to budget, invest funds and balance books in order to manage cash and grow a business.

Then she had to consider many factors in order to decide what kind of business might work in the camp environment.

She decided to make use of her cooking skills in order to offer affordable fried crispy snacks, using materials easily found in the camp, including flour, corn, and banana leaves.

The reliable daily income she now earns means she is able to provide for her family’s needs. As a result, Kay Lee has new confidence in life, she says.

“I have gained new pride. Before, sometimes work was available and other times it was not. Now I can rely on myself.”

Kay Lee added a “big thanks” to TBC for providing her with financial support to start her business.

Looking to the future, she says she is afraid to return to Burma/Myanmar. For now, she takes comfort from the business that allows her to work securely from home, surrounded by her children, and without the risks she once had to take in leaving the camp for work.

TBC aims to ensure that agriculture and livelihoods development programmes help contribute to food security of at least 50 percent of households in the camps, especially among the most vulnerable.