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Khmer Enterprise CEO discusses government support for start-ups

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Khmer Enterprise CEO Vanmunin Chhieng speaks at an SME start-up event in 2020. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Khmer Enterprise CEO discusses government support for start-ups

Khmer Enterprise (KE), a state entity under the Ministry of Economy and Finance, was established in Cambodia during the Covid-19 pandemic to provide support for start-ups using government funds.

In a bid to enhance the entrepreneurial ecosystem and promote investment in the country, KE, together with Swisscontact, co-sponsored by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), launched the “Enhancing Entrepreneurial Ecosystem and Investments (3Ei)” programme on May 26.

Following the signing of the partnership, The Post’s reporter had the opportunity to interview Chhieng Vanmunin, the CEO of Khmer Enterprise, to discuss the organisation’s performance and its efforts, alongside its partners, to uplift the entrepreneurial spirit in Cambodia.

Can you confirm how many start-ups and other companies KE has supported so far?

Since our inception, we have supported thousands of companies. However, it is important to note that hundreds of thousands of companies are aware of KE’s commitment to supporting local businesses.

What has Khmer Enterprise (KE) accomplished thus far?

At KE, we have established numerous projects. Although we initially had fewer team members, we began our journey with determination and mobilised human resources. Currently, we are actively working on nearly 300 projects. Our project portfolio has grown gradually, and we now have a substantial workforce dedicated to this cause.

Regarding the 3Ei programme, what is the expected timeframe and budget?

At this time, we cannot provide the exact budget for the cooperation project, as the signing of the memorandum of understanding has just taken place. We anticipate being able to confirm the budget within approximately a month. Please feel free to reach out to us again at that time.

As KE is a state entity, why is it necessary to collaborate with other partners?

We believe in the power of strong partnerships. Sometimes, we allocate our budget to capable partners for project implementation. We acknowledge that when we handle everything ourselves, we may lack objectivity. Therefore, partnering with organisations who can provide valuable assistance is crucial.

We design and organise our own programmes and actively seek partners to collaborate on their implementation. Swisscontact is one such partner with whom we are working. As we have numerous programmes to execute, it is impossible for us to undertake all of them independently. Therefore, finding capable partners who can support us is essential.

How does KE go about implementing its projects?

At KE, we plan on an annual basis, considering our various partners. Some projects span three to four years, but we review our contracts annually. This process allows us to assess the effectiveness of our collaboration and the results achieved. If the projects are progressing well and producing favourable outcomes, we continue with them.

However, it is worth mentioning sometimes it is not the fault of our partners but rather our ecosystem’s inability to adapt. In such cases, we make adjustments to evolve and meet the needs of our country.

KE has implemented several projects thus far, and the Ministry of Economy and Finance has allocated $5 million for one year. Is there a plan to increase this amount?

Indeed, KE has been implementing projects, and the Ministry of Economy and Finance has set aside a reserve of $5 million for one year. However, in a recent announcement, the ministry revealed plans to increase this amount to $10 million for subsequent years.

As KE was established amid the context of Covid-19, what changes have you observed in the attitudes of Cambodian businesses?

Covid-19 has impacted our people, but it has also prompted us to reevaluate our daily practices and plan for the future. The pandemic served as a wake-up call, highlighting the importance of adapting and making necessary adjustments to ensure resilience. Business owners, in particular, have had to rethink their approaches, exploring innovative strategies to maximise capital amid these challenging circumstances.


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