The SME Finance Forum, managed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has chosen Cambodia to host the ninth edition of its annual flagship event, where more than 400 participants from 60 countries are set to exchange experiences on development associated with the Kingdom’s small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME).

Hosted in partnership with the National Bank of Cambodia, the 9th Global SME Finance Forum scheduled for September 19-21 in Phnom Penh aims to explore how digitalisation can promote and accelerate green finance, enhance supply-chain efficiencies, improve data security and automate processes, while also facilitating greater financial inclusion.

A delegation from the SME Finance Forum is currently in Cambodia for the three days of the event. On September 19, they paid a visit to ACLEDA Bank Plc, where the forum’s CEO Matthew Gamser spoke to reporters about the event.

Gamser stressed that the more than 400 participants would network with SMEs and share relevant experiences.

“We [SME Finance Forum] exist as a centre for learning and networking in the field of small business financing and financial inclusion. So, every year, we have an annual meeting where we try to bring people together in different cities around the world to learn from each other.

“This year we selected to come to Phnom Penh because it is such an interesting place that we have an institution like ACLEDA really pushing the frontier of how you can serve the small businesses, the micro enterprises and the consumers in a different ways that will be more effective.

“We’ve been delighted to be here as our mission is to promote learning … we’re really looking forward to learning from each other, to find new partnership[s] we can build and even to have a good dialogue from many people from the public sector here.

“We are going to have a good dialogue [on] how to create a good environment to support SME[s] and to support financial inclusion,” he said.

ACLEDA president and group managing director In Channy told reporters that the purpose of the visit was to gain insight into the development of the SME and banking sectors, as well as ACLEDA and its contributions to sustainable growth of the national economy and among SMEs.

He explained that ACLEDA has transformed from a local NGO to a full-pledged commercial bank, the largest in Cambodia – in terms of gross loans. The bank is also the Cambodia’s first to expand to nearby countries – Laos and Myanmar in 2008 and 2013, respectively, he said.

In May 2020, ACLEDA become the first commercial bank to issue shares on the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX), he added.

“We are happy to share and at the same time learn from the delegates, who are business leaders of different entities from around the globe, and we hope that mutual benefits will be maximised for business entities as well as SMEs globally by successfully combining expertise and experiences,” Channy said.

Channy shared that out of ACLEDA’s $6 billion in total outstanding loans, 80 per cent went to SMEs, a figure he said increases around 20 per cent annually.

As of June 30, the bank’s total assets amounted to $8.34 billion, and total savings deposits $6.01 billion in 3.59 million accounts, he said. On the mobile banking front, the bank had 2.5 million users and 175,000 partners as of August 31, he added.