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BlueOrchard chooses Cambodia

GENEVA-based BlueOrchard Finance SA, which lends more than US$1 billion to microfinance firms worldwide, has opened its first Asian office in Phnom Penh.

The firm’s Cambodia director, Julie Cheng, said its new office would act as a hub for future regional operations, as well as providing improved service to its Cambodian clients.

“We see Asia as an engine for growth. Cambodia has a free economy and will act as a solid base for our expansion strategy,” she said yesterday.
BlueOrchard provides loans to microfinance institutions, that in turn offer small-scale loans on a local level.

The firm’s South and Southeast Asian lending totalled $115 million, and Cambodia has received $36 million worth of investments to more than 10 microfinance institutions since 2003, she said.

Bun Mony, chairman of the Kingdom’s third-largest micro-lender, Sathapana Limited, said he welcomed BlueOrchard’s new Phnom Penh office, and that it would make it easier for Cambodia’s micro-lenders to access the fund.

Sathapana, which maintains a $46 million portfolio with loans to nearly 40,000 borrowers, has been borrowing from BlueOrchard since 2003.

“We have 10 creditors with more than $30 million credit to our institution, of which roughly $3 million is borrowed from BlueOrchard,” Bun Mony said.

BlueOrchard charged 8.4 percent on its lending to Sathapana, he said, and rates were “competitive if compared to other creditors”.

According to the latest National Bank of Cambodia figures, Cambodia had 22 microfinance institutions in June, extending $320 million worth of loans to 895,404 borrowers.

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