The Ministry of Women’s Affairs invites all federations, associations and communities of women entrepreneur-driven micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Cambodia to join its planned Cambodian Women Entrepreneurs’ Network (CamWen) initiative, the ministry said.
CamWen, which is scheduled to be established at the end of the year, aims to become a collective female voice representing Cambodia in the business sector, it said in a press release.
To join, it said, federations and association must have at least 25 female members, while communities and businesses must have at least 50.
The Chhun Hak, the director-general of the ministry’s General Directorate of Gender Equality and Economic Development, told The Post on Monday that the ministry plans for CamWen to represent Cambodia in business and promote the development of women entrepreneurship on the international stage.
“The network will serve as a forum for MSME women entrepreneurs in Cambodia, raise the sector’s challenges and represent the Kingdom at international meetings.
“Women entrepreneurs in the sector are facing financial challenges and competition as they expand from family businesses to larger businesses, with access to international markets also posing a challenge,” Chhun Hak said.
Ly Ly Food Industry Co Ltd CEO Keo Mom said CamWen was necessary so that the Kingdom could join as a member of the Asean Women Entrepreneurs Network. Membership would allow the Kingdom’s female entrepreneurs to expand their businesses to other Asean countries.
“Joining the Asean Women Entrepreneurs Network will greatly benefit our business relations and the sharing of experiences with each other,” she said.
Chhun Hak expects that the five largest female entrepreneur associations will join CamWen, all of which have more than 100 members.
“We hope that when they come together, we can provide opportunities for capacity development and deal with other challenges so that they can share their voices through the formulation of government policies to develop entrepreneurship in Cambodia,” he said.
In March, USAID launched the five-year $10 million project called “Women Entrepreneurs Act” – managed by international NGO Pact Cambodia – to support and empower young women in the Kingdom to become entrepreneurs and leaders.
An International Finance Corporation report released in August said Cambodian women entrepreneurs continue to struggle with limited access to financial loans for business expansions, with only three per cent of women entrepreneurs having access to formal credit from microfinance institutions and banks.
The report estimated that the unmet demand for credit from women entrepreneurs is currently $4.2 billion – a figure that’s equivalent to almost 63 per cent of Cambodia’s national budget of $6.7 billion for this year.
The Cambodia Inter-censal Economic Survey 2014 shows there were 513,759 enterprises in the Kingdom that year, of which 97.6 per cent were micro-enterprises and 2.2 per cent small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Women-owned 26 per cent of SMEs and 62 per cent of micro-enterprises.