Cambodia is a Southeast Asian country of 15 million inhabitants, stretching over an area of 181 000 km². The country is deeply scarred by the mass genocide commuted from 1975 to 1979 that killed an estimated 1.7 million people. Its economy has been damaged by years of war, and Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with approximately 2 out of 10 Cambodians living under the poverty line.
However, the poverty rate more than halved, from 53% (2004) to 20% nowadays and Cambodia is one of the best performers in poverty reduction worldwide. The improvements observed during the last decades are the result of successful development efforts led by the Cambodian government.
Almost 80% of the Cambodian population lives in rural areas, where the access to electricity rate does not exceed 50%. In addition, a part of electricity grid is owned by private operators who set prices out of reach of underprivileged households. To cope with this lack of access to energy, many families have to power their electrical appliances (lamps, phones, TVs, etc.) with car batteries, an expensive and unsustainable solution causing toxic emissions and exhaustion.
Yet, Cambodia benefits from an important yearly solar exposure reaching about 4,7 kWh/m². This characteristic would allow for an installed capacity of 4000 megawatts (MW). Regardless of this resource, solar energy remains largely unexploited in Cambodia, as the current installed capacity is 3000kW (3MW). Affordable solar products coupled with adapted services could cover the electricity demand of the poorest households.
To further reduce poverty and vulnerability, one of the biggest challenges is the improvement of electricity supplies.
To tackle this energy challenge, the French NGO Entrepreneurs du Monde launched Pteah Baitong at the beginning of 2015, in partnership with Chamroeun Microfinance to take advantage of the unexploited solar potential in Cambodia.
As a social enterprise, we aim at providing the poorest households with clean, efficient and long-lasting solar-powered products in order to improve their quality of life and their impact on the environment, as well as empowering micro-entrepreneurs through our micro-franchise program.
We commercialize solar products certified by Good Solar and improved cookstoves in three rural areas: Kampong Thom, Kampong Speu and Koh Kong.