The state-owned Small and Medium Enterprise Bank of Cambodia Plc (SME Bank) has disbursed more than $432 million in loans to at least 3,260 SMEs, to keep them from going under during the height of the Covid-19 crisis, and subsequently to help them reopen and expand post-pandemic, according to its CEO, Lim Aun.
The bank was established in February 2020, and lends directly and through co-financing schemes with 33 participating financial institutions (PFI) at present.
As of December 27, SME Bank has directly lent $51.31 million to 227 enterprises, while $381 million was provided through PFIs to 3,033 businesses, Aun told The Post the following day.
He also reported that a total of $41 million in loans have been disbursed to 288 tourism-related enterprises under the $150 million Tourism Recovery Co-Financing Scheme (TRCS) to date since loans began to be offered in July.
The manufacturing and processing industries, as priority areas determined by the SME Bank in line with government policy, account for “more than 50” of the loans, he shared.
The overall financing project, “which is implemented by SME Bank with the participation of PFIs, has been a real support for Cambodia’s SMEs, as well as tourism businesses”, he said.
“Benefactors have had the ability to reopen, maintain, and expand their businesses, especially those hamstrung by the Covid-19 crisis,” Aun added.
Speaking to The Post, Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Ky Sereyvath remarked that the SME Bank has not only provided SMEs with much-needed capital, but also “business-specific techniques, as well as detailed, in-depth analyses and studies” to help them and improve their growth.
For reference, the TRCS was rolled out on May 17 to provide a lifeline for businesses involved in the tourism value chain that are deemed to have been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.
The scheme’s lending rules and procedures were officially established on July 1, which opened the door for loan applications.
It was financed by a counterpart fund between the government and the financial institutions, with $75 million of the national budget to be disbursed in the form of loans issued by the SME Bank, and the other $75 million through loans made via the PFIs, which comprise commercial banks and microfinance institutions (MFI).
Key offerings of the TRCS include a maximum interest rate of 6.5 per cent per annum, a 24-month grace period on principal payments, loan term of up to eight years, loan amount of up to $600,000, and the option of receiving funds in either riel or US dollars, SME Bank’s Aun told The Post on October 9, noting that some of these limits had only been changed recently.