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Sathapana executive off to build new microfinance institution

Sathapana executive off to build new microfinance institution

Prominent banker Bun Mony has resigned from his position as CEO of Sathapana Bank Plc after more than 20 years at the helm of the financial institution in which it grew from a small rural NGO into the country’s third-largest microfinance institution (MFI), and recently transitioned into a full-service commercial bank.

His departure on December 1 leaves Sathapana under the interim stewardship of Lim Aun, the bank’s former chief operating officer, while Mony has already jumped into his new role as board chairman of newly formed Vithey Microfinance Plc.

Contacted yesterday, Mony, who was reluctant to discuss his resignation, described it “as a tough choice”.

“I think the reason is that when we became a commercial bank with our Japanese shareholders, we had different ideas for which way the bank should be heading,” he said. “Also, it can be difficult to work with Japanese partners because of cultural differences.”

Sathapana Bank Plc completed its merger between Maruhan Japan Bank Plc and Sathapana Ltd last April after the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) gave the deal a nod. The merger created a commercial bank with a combined registered paid-up capital of $120 million and total assets of $772 million. Its loan portfolio amounted to $533 million with total deposits at $367 million.

Mony, a career banker who spent two consecutive terms as head of the Cambodian Microfinance Association (CMA), said his new role would give him a fresh start at building an MFI. Vithey Microfinance, which received a licence from the central bank on October 31, operates just two branches.

“My interest is to focus on lending that helps the poor who need access to credit,” he said, adding that the MFI would cap lending at $1,000 per client. “While it is just a small MFI operating in Kandal province and Phnom Penh, I hope it will expand to other provinces.”

Mony said Cambodia’s MFI landscape has greatly changed over the last 20 years, but he still sees room for growth, especially as the central bank weeds out informal lenders.

He added that he expected foreign investors would continue to play an important role in the growth of MFI lending as local banks were still not providing much funding for growth.

A minor revision was made to this online version.

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