Sonata Microfinance Institution, a joint investment between local and foreign investors, officially started operations in Cambodia yesterday.
A US$50 million loan package was signed during the ceremony on Thursday, providing Singapore-based EastWing Group and Japanese firm Grand Cooperation with a 30 per cent stake of the MFI.
“Although our partners hold only a 30 per cent share, Sonatra MFI received a robust financial recourse base from our foreign partners,” Sorn Sokna, chairman of the Sonatra MFI board of directors said in a speech during the ceremony.
Sorn Sokna, founder of securities firm Sonatra Securities, added that the two foreign partners are set to provide training, develop human resources and help to equip the financial institute.
Sonatra MFI successfully obtained the operating licence from the National Bank of Cambodia in January, though operations officially launched yesterday. The institute currently has three branches in Phnom Penh and is set to open a further three in Kandal, Kampot and Siem Reap provinces.
National Bank of Cambodia deputy governor Ouk Maly yesterday told the Post he welcomed new arrivals, adding that the industry needs strong financial resources in order to accommodate the growing customer requirements.
“We warmly welcome and applaud [Sorn Sokna] for his efforts in attracting foreign partners to invest in the industry,” he said. “Sonatra MFI will play a very crucial role in the Cambodian financial system by offering small loans to people and SMEs,” she said.
Ouk Maly added that a total of 29 MFIs had received licences from the NBC – seven of which gained deposit-taking licences.
Outstanding loans from microfinance institutions rose about 49 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2011 hitting $5.04 million, while the number of borrowers increased 13 per cent to 1,002,926.