Congratulations to Amret for being voted as “The Leading Financial Institution for Empowering Women in Business in Cambodia 2021” for the 2nd year in a row by Global Banking and Finance Review
1. What does the award represent to you and Amret?
ED: Women’s economic empowerment has always been an integral part of Amret’s business development since the business inception of Amret. To be recognized for this award for two years running is an incredible honor and a great achievement for Amret. This is a true testament of our ongoing efforts and long-standing commitment to provide equal financial access to empower women in business in Cambodia.
Many thanks to our board and management for supporting our commitment to this great initiative.
As of now, 68% of our loan portfolio are women across all segments in both agriculture and non-agriculture business. Our goal is to go beyond just offering financial products but also to provide networking opportunities to scale their businesses with various business organizations.
2. 2020 has been a business-disruptive year due to COVID-19. What are your plans for 2021 to further this commitment to empower women in business?
ED: Even though women own 61% of all businesses in Cambodia, they are largely focused at the micro level of the wholesale and retail trade services sector. Despite strong progress in recent years, women still take a backseat to their male counterparts in areas of business growth, particularly due to socio-cultural constraints, inadequate knowledge, and limited access to formal financial services.
To bridge the gap for women entrepreneurs to strive in this competitive environment, Amret is actively working with various stakeholders to conduct vocational trainings and financial education programs as part of our Empowering Women in Business Campaign (EWIB) with a primary focus on crop maximization (in particular, mangos and cassavas) and digital literacy programs
Despite some related setbacks in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has not affected our long-term plans to support women entrepreneurs. We recognize that there is a significant gap in digital literacy knowledge in Cambodia and this plays a crucial role for businesses in the digital era, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time, we are integrating the Agricultural Crop Maximization Training into our Client Capacity Building Program. Through strategic collaboration with international and local partners, we will introduce cassava and mango crop maximization programs in 2021 to help farmers maximize their crop productivity and thereby increase their income.
Amret is also looking to strengthen our support to women business owners and meet their evolving demands with the launch of our innovative Women Entrepreneur Loan in the second half of 2021. It is a financial solution tailor-made for women only.
3. How is Amret helping women entrepreneurs cope with the COVID-19 pandemic?
ED: As a socially responsible institution, Amret has prioritized the safety and financial well-being of our customers by offering an array of programs to help our customers affected by the outbreak. This includes deferring loan repayments and offering a grace period for repayment, depending on the customer's needs. Amret understand the challenges in the current pandemic environment and is determined to play a positive role to assist our clients however possible. Our efforts are in line with the government’s and central bank’s commitment to providing assistance to all customers who require help to overcome their financial difficulties.
4. What can we expect from Amret to further promote EWIB?
ED: Having solid working capital is essential to the success of any business. Without it, businesses either fail to get off the ground or capitalize on growth opportunities. Yet when it comes to business loans, women in Cambodia face challenges to get their applications accepted or be met with the amount of money they need to finance their business. This is where our innovative Women Entrepreneur Loan comes in.
The Women Entrepreneur Loan is a hassle-free, women-friendly loan product designed with women in mind. This innovative product serves to assist women to either jump-start their business idea or expand their business.
It comes with a variety of benefits including preferred interest rates, minimal loan documentations, and flexible repayment plans. What sets Women Entrepreneur Loan apart from other loan products in the market are its two unique features: free breast cancer health checks and a unique free life insurance policy over the loan’s tenure.
We understand that running a successful business is very demanding and requires a great amount of attention. We want to put our women entrepreneurs in their best state of mind and physical condition to get their businesses up and running with a complimentary breast cancer health check package. Together with a free life insurance policy worth 10,000 USD for a minimum loan size of 20,000 USD, women entrepreneurs can have peace of mind knowing that their loved ones are protected in any circumstance.
Amret is a leading financial institution in Cambodia. A full subsidiary of the Advans Group, its reputable international shareholders include FMO Entrepreneurial Development Bank, La Fayette Participations and International Financial Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank.
As well as catering to the Kingdom's micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), Amret MFI also offers a wide range of financial products and services to Cambodia's unbanked and underbanked. A leading microfinance institution in Cambodia, Amret provides both lending and deposit products to more than 500,000 clients, who range from low-income farmers to MSMEs. With 158 branches nationwide, it employs more than 4,500 people. Amret has assets of more than $1 billion and deposits exceeding $500 million.