The “Finance for Business” forum is part of the shared vision among Cambodian businesspeople to foster entrepreneurship and provide a platform for nurturing a thriving business-minded environment.

The initiative aims to connect local businesses with financial professionals and stakeholders to create a robust ecosystem with accessible finance, according to a senior official at Khmer Enterprise (KE).

Chhieng Vanmunin, CEO of KE, made the remarks at the weekly forum, attended by over a hundred participants from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and financial institutions. The event aimed to facilitate access to funding and build a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country.

Under the Ministry of Economy and Finance, KE is spearheading the programme, which serves as a forum where financial institutions, business entities, business associations and potential companies can discuss opportunities and challenges in accessing financing, particularly in the post-pandemic economic climate.

“The … programme aims to awaken business owners … to the need for financial services access and to connect their businesses with entrepreneurial networks,” Vanmunin stated.

He noted that access to funding is a significant hurdle for SMEs. Cambodian entrepreneurs have utilised the series of discussions to introduce financial products and services from guest speakers representing Cambodian financial institutions.

“The financial programme provides a platform for creating an entrepreneurial environment conducive to growth. It achieves this by linking local businesses with financial experts and [relevant] stakeholders, thereby facilitating access to finance and offering other networking opportunities,” he added.

Mar Amara, senior executive vice-president and group CFO at ACLEDA Bank who participated in the discussion, noted that her bank contributes to the ecosystem by offering loans tailored to the specific needs of SMEs, assisting in business expansion and investment.

“The main objective is to generate income, create jobs, reduce poverty and promote sustainable economic development,” she said.

A recent World Bank report indicated that the country is on the path to economic recovery, projecting a growth of 5.5% in 2023. Last October, the ministry predicted a 6.6% growth for 2024.

According to KE, SMEs are crucial for the future success of the Kingdom’s economy as they currently make up 98% of all businesses and contribute 58% to the gross domestic product (GDP).