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Plan to aid SMEs in ESG success

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Khmer Enterprise, Oxfam and Platform Impact sign a deal to aid local entrepreneurs through the 2022-2024 Programme Impact Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (PRISME). SUPPLIED

Plan to aid SMEs in ESG success

State-owned Khmer Enterprise, Oxfam and Platform Impact Co Ltd are joining forces on the 2022-2024 Programme Impact Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (PRISME), which aims to accelerate and scale up impact-driven entrepreneurship and responsible financing activities in Cambodia.

In partnership with Cambodia Investor Club (CIC), Platform Impact is to design and implement strategic, technical and logistic plans that offer high quality supports for entrepreneurs to set up and launch impact-driven enterprises (IDE) in the Kingdom.

“PRISME is a new, innovative and best-in-class entrepreneurship programme aiming to build, develop and empower impact-driven enterprises – hybrid organisations blending business with mission, and combining an unwavering focus on meeting societal needs with entrepreneurial energy and market discipline to prove that making a profit and having positive impacts on society are not mutually-exclusive ideas,” according to a press release.

It described IDEs as inclusive and environmentally sensitive businesses that use the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for decision making and actions.

Platform Impact public-private partnership senior associate Van David underscored that Environmental Social Governance (ESG) has sparked new and growing trends over the last decade, and that today every commercial bank in the US, EU and Asia must set up an ESG department.

He said sustainable and inclusive businesses for ESG investing are in rapidly growing global demand. “Cambodian SMEs should start appreciating and embracing the ESG concept and build resilience in how inclusive their business could be in 10, 20 years down the road if they were to survive and thrive on the international markets.”

He explained that Cambodia in the early 1990s made a “bold decision” to adopt ESG, by linking our garment industry to ethical labour standards, which he said resulted in a better-factories platform that has served the sector well to date.

“As a small market with limited capacities and squeezed in between two giants in manufacturing and production, Cambodia must carve herself a niche to thrive. The bold adoption of the Ethical Labour Standard for the garment industry was such a brilliant example, but now more needs to be done to leap frog the challenging path ahead.

“The world is adopting mandatory ESG-centric investments and Cambodia needs to catch the train while its speed hasn’t yet augmented.”

“Platform Impact specialises in ESG-centric investments over the last few years and built a decent size portfolio amounting to $200 million, with which we help clients conceive an ESG-centric bankable investment project to raise funds for them accordingly.

“Our ambition is to put Cambodia on the global map of ESG-centric investments with billions of dollars available worldwide, and ESG investments have now become a must for all financial institutions,” David said.

Oxfam country director for Cambodia Phean Sophoan said SMEs have played a significant role in boosting the Kingdom’s economic growth, by providing employment and generating income for low-income people, as well as in delivering positive socio-economic impacts.

“Increasing positive impacts of the enterprises is essential for the country to alleviate poverty while reducing its ecological footprint. Oxfam strongly believes that collaborating with the public and private sector is one of the best approaches to address economic, societal and environmental challenges in Cambodia.

“We are able to leverage resources of each organisation to support SMEs to build and develop an enterprise that serves collective interests of all while protecting our planet,” she said.

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