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KE, UNDP to provide SMEs a digital boost

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UNDP resident representative Nick Beresford and Khmer Enterprise (KE) CEO Chhieng Vanmunin. UNDP

KE, UNDP to provide SMEs a digital boost

Khmer Enterprise (KE) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) have formed a strategic partnership to give a boost to the operational development of the Kingdom's e-commerce sector and small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), according to a May 11 joint press release.

This new partnership between KE – a start-up ecosystem support arm under the Ministry of Economy and Finance – and the UNDP aims to strengthen and ensure the sustainable development of SMEs and e-commerce in the Kingdom, it said.

This will provide a springboard for SMEs to build their online presence, deliver a new range of products and services, and find the best avenues for international trade, it added.

The release noted that the UNDP teamed up with the Ministry of Commerce on December 23 to form “one of the key components” of the Kingdom's e-commerce acceleration project.

“The joint partnership aims to boost domestic and international opportunities for SMEs through a digital platform and create over 1,000 new jobs by 2022.

“In this joint initiative, 125 small and medium-sized businesses are expected to gain grants and training in e-commerce through a co-funding [partnership with the commerce ministry], the Enhanced Integrated Framework [EIF], the Australian government and UNDP.

“With this new partnership and additional funding from KE, the project is now expected to scale up to support an additional 50 SMEs in two project activities.

“These activities include an incubation programme – equipping SMEs with the necessary skillset and readiness support – and a small-grants programme – supporting digitalisation transformation,” it said.

KE CEO Chhieng Vanmunin noted that the Covid-19 pandemic offers an unprecedented advantage for policy-makers and ecosystem builders to help SMEs thrive in an online world.

“Given the difficult circumstances caused by Covid-19, through this programme partnership, qualified SMEs will have various opportunities to receive grants that are provided by Khmer Enterprise.

“This programme structure offers efficient mechanisms to provide funds and able to train SMEs to go digital. Such intervention will contribute to the acceleration of the Royal Government's Rectangular Strategy for promoting digital economy,” he said.

According to the release, the partnership underpins previous collaborative projects between UNDP and KE – such as the Bluetribe Programme – by offering technical and financial support to SMEs in priority sectors and developing the SME ecosystem.

UNDP resident representative Nick Beresford said the UNDP was keen to prop up KE's work in accelerating a digital economic transition.

“This provides micro and small businesses the opportunity to grow faster, provide more jobs and prosperity, and do so with greater protection against Covid-19,” he said.

The release added that the partnership would bring the “local community network connection and international expertise” together to reinforce the capacity to provide technical and financial support.

“It will also encourage innovative ways of programming for the whole ecosystem – through support from the private sector and international development agencies to assist micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises [MSMEs] and the e-commerce sector in Cambodia,” it said.

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