The state-owned Small and Medium Enterprise Bank of Cambodia Plc (SME Bank) has prepared an additional sum of more than $220 million to loan to the Kingdom’s smaller businesses and give them a better shot at sustainability, to expand and boost economic growth in the post-Covid-19 era.

The bank was established in February 2020, and lends directly and through co-financing schemes with 33 participating financial institutions (PFI) at present.

SME Bank CEO Lim Aun told The Post on January 7 that the sum would go to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) through both direct loans and those made under co-financing schemes, with a focus on women-owned businesses as well as priority sectors like manufacturing, processing, agriculture and industry.

SME Bank-backed loans “have really helped businesses strengthen and sustain their operations” during Covid, he said, voicing hope that local SMES will benefit even more and be more successful, which he labelled as an objective of government policy.

Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Phan Phalla had told a December 5 press conference that the government was planning an additional $100 million for SME Bank to provide SMEs with loans at low interest rates to ensure these businesses have enough capital to support themselves and perhaps expand.

Phalla signalled that SME Bank is also considering launching SME Co-Financing Scheme Phase III (SCFS III) if it determines that there is sufficient need for additional government intervention to support the business activities of SMEs, should difficult economic times persist.

“But for the coming year, we’ll also have direct loan schemes for SMEs so that they don’t have to go through participating financial institutions … with favourable interest rates,” he said.

“I sincerely hope that all private financial institutions and stakeholders will keep actively supporting the government’s financing policies,” Phalla added.

As of December 31, SME Bank has directly lent $53.4 million to 231 enterprises, and a total of $42 million in loans have been disbursed to 292 tourism-related enterprises under the $150 million Tourism Recovery Co-Financing Scheme (TRCS) since loans began to be offered in July.