The much-anticipated Inclusive Business Enabling Environment for Cambodia (IbeeC) strategy will be adopted soon to meet the needs of 1.7 million poor and low-income Cambodians by 2023, a wide-ranging virtual meeting conducted by the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation heard on March 18.
Present at the meeting were senior officials of various ministries and government institutions, representatives of the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise, development partners, the private sector, investors, business associations, promoters and facilitators.
Inclusive businesses (IB) are those that are designed to lift low-income populations out of poverty by profitably integrating them into their value chains or operations.
Speaking at the event, industry minister Cham Prasidh said the IB model provides the groundwork for a unique business network that is based on sound commercial principles and fosters a high-functioning culture of creation and innovation which generates substantial amounts of income.
He said IBs have been a substantial source of solutions related to income generation and improving the livelihoods of low-income people in a systematic and sustainable manner.
“This is why we need to encourage IBs to contribute to achieving the government’s vision of becoming an upper-middle-income country by 2030,” he said, adding that IBeeC was largely driven by his ministry.
Ministry secretary of state Heng Sokkung said IBeeC focuses on nine points – support; raising awareness; evaluation and recognition; training and promotion; risk reduction funds; incentives; prioritisation; social impact; and cooperation with ASEAN to advance the IB agenda in the region.
“IB has been mainstreamed into the draft SME [small and medium-sized enterprise] policy, and currently the strategy on promoting Cambodia’s IB is being reviewed for formal approval,” he said.
UN resident coordinator to Cambodia Pauline Tamesis told the meeting that the UN will continue to support the promotion of IBs in the Kingdom.
“The inclusive business is relevant for economic recovery and building a better way forward to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs]. Real development cannot be achieved or sustainable unless it is connected to everyone,” she noted.
The ministry said the meeting also presented the results of a report on the shape of the Cambodian IB market, which was prepared last year with the support of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the Inclusive Business Activities Network (IBAN).
The report revealed that 19 companies were developing an IB model that will give a leg up to 1.7 million poor and low-income Cambodians by 2023, more than doubling from 800,000 in 2019.
In September, the ASEAN economic ministers adopted the “Guidelines for Promoting Inclusive Business in ASEAN” and Cambodia was the first country in the 10-nation bloc to implement its ideas through a comprehensive strategy.
Prasidh said that with these guidelines in hand and as the host of the ASEAN summit next year, the Kingdom plans to host the 5th ASEAN Inclusive Business Summit and Third ASEAN Inclusive Business Awards.