JUDGING by the loans outlaid by ACLEDA Bank, fishing constitutes a large proportion of economic activity in the province of Koh Kong.
“Fifty percent of our loans are to people involved in fishing,” says Sim Kamsath, branch manager of ACLEDA Bank in Koh Kong. “The main exports to Thailand are fresh crab and shrimp. In Koh Kong we have natural crab and shrimp.”
The bank’s presence in the province dates back to 2003, when a post office was established. It became a branch in 2005.
“ACLEDA Bank was the first bank in Koh Kong – even the road was not yet paved,” he says. “At that time clients only took micro-loans. As their businesses started to grow, they increased the size of their loans and that’s why they became big.”
Roth Navy, 32, lives in Village 4 on the outskirts of Koh Kong. While her husband is out fishing, she brings up their children and manages the house.
The couple borrowed 2.5 million riel from ACLEDA Bank in 2009 and a further 4.5 million riel last year.
“At first I took out a loan to buy half of this house from my sister so she could buy her own house,” she says. Despite buying her sister out, nine people still live in the small wooden house, including Roth Navy’s four children.
“The second loan was to buy a fishing boat,” she says. “Before we had a small boat so we took the loan to buy a bigger boat. With this we can go far and catch more fish, even if there is a lot of wind.”
Despite their bigger boat, the couple’s income is still irregular.
“Some days my husband catches 14,000 baht [of fish] per day, other days 3,000 baht,” she says. “It varies a lot.”
Although Roth Navy admits to having concerns about the future, to date she has met all her repayments. “I have paid four payments already and I have 14 left to pay over 18 months,” she says. “We are on schedule.” INTERPRETER: RANN REUY