Micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) continue to play an important role in supporting the Kingdom’s economic growth, with stakeholder engagement required in tackling certain challenges, Ministry of Industry and Handicraft official Chhea Layhy said on Wednesday.
The 8th Asean Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises meeting in Phnom Penh began on Monday and is set to end on Friday.
Layhy, who is the director of the ministry’s General Department of Small and Medium Enterprises and Handicraft, told The Post that it was the second time Cambodia had hosted the event, where it aims to promote the local and Asean MSME sectors.
“At the event, we will discuss challenges in the MSME sector and methods to promote governance,” Layhy said.
He said the government considers the sector to be a backbone of the economy, contributing to increased incomes, job creation and exports, as well as technological upgrading and poverty reduction in line with the goals of the Kingdom achieving upper-middle income status by 2030 and becoming a high-income country by 2050.
“This is the perfect opportunity to obtain financial assistance and implement projects,” Layhy said.
Ly Ly Food Industry Co Ltd CEO Keo Mom said access to finance, markets and means of production remains a challenge for the sector.
“I hope they can find the solutions at the meeting, ” Mom said.
A survey conducted by the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft of 71 small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) said they needed assistance in improving in certain areas. These included hygiene standards, market research, service development and packaging, technology, human resources and labour, access to finance, business registration and taxation.
Secretary of state at the ministry Heng Sokkung said the Asean Strategic Action Plan for SME Development 2016-2025 had been drafted in response to these issues.
He said the policy supports MSMEs in line with the five goals of enhancing support regulations; promoting entrepreneurship and developing human resources; promoting productivity and technological innovation; increasing access to finance; and promoting foreign markets and globalisation.
“The Cambodian government is poised to cooperate with other Asean member states and development partners to develop MSMEs for entry into foreign markets,” Sokkung said.
An International Finance Corporation report released in August said Cambodia’s female entrepreneurs continue to struggle with limited access to financial loans for business expansion, with only three per cent 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 – equivalent to almost 63 per cent of Cambodia’s $6.7 billion national budget for this year.
The Cambodia Inter-censal Economic Survey 2014 showed there were 513,759 enterprises in the Kingdom that year, of which 97.6 per cent were micro-enterprises and 2.2 per cent SMEs.
Women owned 26 per cent of SMEs and 62 per cent of micro-enterprises.