Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gender gap in access to finance persists

Gender gap in access to finance persists

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Rath Sovannarak, director-general of the National Bank of Cambodia’s (NBC) Banking Supervision Department, said gaps remain in adoption of financial services. National Bank of Cambodia

Gender gap in access to finance persists

A lack of information available on financial services and products, the inability to meet their requirements and a general lack of financial awareness are the main barriers for women entrepreneurs in access to finance, according to a senior official at the central bank.

Rath Sovannarak, director-general of the National Bank of Cambodia’s (NBC) Banking Supervision Department, made the statement on February 4 at the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Forum on Access to Finance for Women Entrepreneurs in Covid-19 Era.

Pact Cambodia through the USAID-funded Women Entrepreneurs Act (WE Act) project hosted the event in collaboration with NBC, Khmer Enterprise, Swisscontact and Good Return.

While the Kingdom has made significant improvements in financial inclusion, Sovannarak said some challenges remain prevalent, especially for women. Although women and men have equal access to finance, a gap remains in terms of usage.

He said a UN Capital Development Fund study found that 70 per cent of savings accounts in Cambodia were inactive and low-balance, with women accounting for a larger share than men.

“Similarly, evidence shows that access to credit is somewhat similar between men and women, but women receive less in loans than men.

“To tackle these challenges, promoting innovative products for SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] and increasing consumer empowerment and protection and financial sector transparency have become our priority,” Sovannarak said.

Sabine Joukes, Pact Cambodia country director and chief of party of Pact’s Women Entrepreneurs Act project, said her organisation has been working with key development partners, stakeholders and the private sector to build financial education literacy and awareness, as well as studying the challenges faced by women in business in the Kingdom.

“We aim to align actors all aiming to deliver relevant financing options to young women entrepreneurs, with their needs and to ensure we address the gaps, so YWEs [young women entrepreneurs] have the best choices to meet their needs,” she said.

Chhieng Vanmunin, CEO of Khmer Enterprise, an implementation unit of the Entrepreneurship Development Fund (EDF) established by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said his institution last year launched two rounds of assistance packages for start-ups and SMEs that were struggling under Covid-19.

He said it received nearly 300 applications from start-ups and SMEs across the capital and 18 provinces and awarded grants to 27, of which 60 per cent were women-owned.

“Khmer Enterprise sees the value in providing opportunities for women to develop start-ups and transform them into strong businesses that contribute to an expansion of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, corporate connectivity and business ventures.

“The bottleneck for local businesses, start-ups, early-stage enterprises to grow is the access to appropriate financing. Hence improving access to finance through entrepreneurship support programmes developed through partnerships among potential partners, financial institutions and investors is essential,” Vanmunin said.

According to Sovannarak, the government launched the National Financial Inclusion Strategy 2019-2025 on July 12, 2019 to “increase access to quality official financial services” and reduce the rate of women without access to financial services by half from 27 to 13 per cent and expand the use of formal financial services from 59 to 70 per cent by 2025.

“The National Bank of Cambodia has been working with stakeholders to study the feasibility of unsecured loans and to launch a number of campaigns to raise financial literacy for women and women entrepreneurs, as well as financial consumer protection,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Is Cambodia’s travel sector in for another cheerless holiday season?

    The travel and tourism sector was heaving back to life as borders started to reopen, promising a festive vibe for the holidays and New Year. But Omicron and other Covid-related issues are threatening to close the year on a bleak note ‘Seems [like] Covid-19 won’

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Hun Sen: Manet to be candidate for prime minister

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has reaffirmed that his oldest son Hun Manet will be his successor as Prime Minister if he is elected. Speaking during the inauguration of a new sewage treatment facility in Preah Sihanouk province on December 2, Hun Sen said Manet will be