Twenty-seven start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on November 24 received financial assistance packages from the state-run Khmer Enterprise (KE) in a bid to stimulate their Covid-crushed businesses.
KE is an implementation unit of the Entrepreneurship Development Fund (EDF) established by the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
In a press release, KE noted that it ran two iterations of its Khmer Enterprise Assistance Package (KEAP) programme, over which it received 278 applications from across the capital and 19 provinces covering sectors such as agriculture, agro-processing, handicrafts, services and information and communications technology (ICT).
Following an evaluation process, it said it selected 12 businesses in the first round (ended March) and 15 in the second (ended September), culminating in a signing ceremony to award the accomplished entrepreneurs on November 24.
At the event, KE CEO Chhieng Vanmunin said the agency “believes that the Khmer Enterprise Assistance Package programme is an effective strategic response to support potential start-ups and SMEs in resuming their business operation during and after Covid-19”.
He said KE plays a major role in linking key stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship.
He added that the two rounds of the KEAP programme clocked in at around $400,000 and that individual funds provided to the start-ups and SMEs were worth between $5,000 and $20,000, for exclusive use in business operations over a maximum period of one year.
“KE hopes that investors will continue to monitor and invest in start-ups and SMEs that can attract other investors in the future,” Vanmunin said.
KE noted it has backed start-ups in “key prioritised sectors”, including ICT, services, agro-processing and agriculture for export, and manufacturing aimed at curbing imports in its aspiration to enhance economic diversification, innovation, productivity and job creation.
Chen Sopheap, the founder and managing director of Keiy Tambanh Khmer (KTK), an association of traditional Cambodian silk-based product manufacturers and one of the enterprises awarded a financial package by KE, said the funding would help grow KTK’s businesses.
She said it would also provide additional jobs among KTK’s more than 300 members who have been strained by a prolonged market disruption fuelled by Covid-19.
“I hope the budget package will provide the footing we need to spend more money on marketing, technology and promoting our products to target customers,” she said, voicing her commitment to use the funds effectively and do her share to prop up Cambodia’s women weavers.
Thaung Thida, the managing director of Thaung Trading Co Ltd, a salt processor based in Kampot province, told reporters at the event that the funds would help with her company’s plans to expand its production chain for domestic supply and exports.
She said: “I would like to thank KE for providing us the financial aid package in light of the many obstacles my company has faced during Covid-19. I trust that the package will help the company make some headway in promoting its products.”
Ministry secretary of state and EDF chairman Vongsey Vissoth said KE is envisioned to become the national platform for promoting entrepreneurial activities and stressed its role as a significant leverage to unlock the potential of Cambodia’s entrepreneurs into engines of economic growth and value-added creation.
He said they will be vital in crafting new business models for the Kingdom and instrumental in tackling challenges concerning business and value chains.
Vanmunin added that KE is slated to roll out the third round of assistance packages next year.