Members of the Cambodia Women Entrepreneurs Association (CWEA) have met with the industry ministry to discuss the possibility of government intervention on manpower shortages, credit access and the impact of Covid-19 on small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in the Kingdom.

CWEA president and Ly Ly Food Industry Co Ltd owner and CEO Keo Mom said that the first quarterly meeting between the association and the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation on April 19 sought to find “practical solutions” to the three issues.

She identified the main problems that members of the association have been facing as a lack of skilled staff, difficulty of women-led businesses in obtaining bank loans and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on businesses.

Mom said the obstacles faced by women entrepreneurs over the past two years have been more pronounced than those faced by men, especially with the traditional added burden of childcare responsibilities.

With schools closed and children having to study at home, women entrepreneurs have had to spend more time on household chores, whilst also spending time on business development to mitigate the impacts of Covid-19 crisis on their enterprises, she said.

In response to Mom’s concerns, Minister of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation Cham Prasidh promoted existing technical training courses to help “rehabilitate and revitalise” businesses in the endemic stage of Covid-19.

But he conceded that “further efforts must be made” by both businesses and the ministry to facilitate employee access of these resources, both online and directly at workplaces.

Regarding the difficulty of obtaining loans from banks, he pointed to the state-owned Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Bank of Cambodia Plc, or SME Bank, and the Agricultural and Rural Development Bank of Cambodia’s low-interest rate loans which entrepreneurs can apply for to facilitate development of their business.

On May 6, CWEA and the ministry will jointly launch the second and third white papers compiled by the association on issues, obstacles, solutions and achievements of women entrepreneurship in Cambodia.