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UN rolls out fund for women-led firms

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Peth Yoeung founder and CEO Pong Limsan (left). PETH YOEUNG

UN rolls out fund for women-led firms

Cambodian women-led fintechs, technology or regulated financial institutions are among the enterprises eligible for the recently-launched Women Enterprise Recovery Fund to promote and expand their businesses, according to the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

With support from the Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank (FMO), the Canadian government and Visa Inc, UNESCAP and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) have rolled out the “Women Enterprise Recovery Fund: Promoting and Upscaling Digital Solutions for Enhancing Women Enterprise Growth and Resilience”.

UNESCAP said in a January 11 press release: “Applicants to the fund can be based anywhere globally, but the project implementation and solution must target women enterprises in one or more of the following countries – Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal or Vietnam.”

UNCDF deputy executive secretary Xavier Michon said in the release that the fund would “support innovative business solutions that address the constraints faced by women enterprises in South and Southeast Asia.

“These solutions are especially crucial today as we know women enterprises have suffered disproportionately from Covid-19. Now is the opportunity to innovate and find solutions that recover better and build resilience.

“UNCDF is grateful to [UNESCAP], the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, [the] government of Canada, the [FMO] and Visa Inc for their collaboration and support to advance women enterprises through this Innovation Fund mechanism.”

Pong Limsan, founder and CEO of Peth Yoeung, a premier local cloud-based hospital software platform, told The Post on January 11 that women have borne the brunt of the global pandemic, which has affected almost every type of business.

She said: “The fund focuses on women and I think this’ll be a great helping hand for women entrepreneurship and serve as a source of motivation for women to dare to dream for herself and her community.

“The fund is a great initiative to assist Cambodia’s SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] and women entrepreneurs amid the impact of Covid-19.

“Many businesses have suffered severe impact from the pandemic – accessing loans in developing countries such as Cambodia and those in our ASEAN community remains a major hurdle.

“With the pandemic, a lot of SMEs face challenges to survival, while others are forced to immediately shut their doors. The fund will help those in the struggle to survive and have enough time to re-strategise and re-imagine their business models to get their businesses up and running again.”

UNESCAP deputy executive secretary Kaveh Zahedi was quoted in the release as saying: “The fund will provide up to $50,000 in co-funding to innovative solutions, along with technical assistance provided through our extensive partner networks.

“[The exciting initiative] will bring to market innovative financial and business solutions for women entrepreneurs who have been impacted by the pandemic.”

And FMO capacity development manager Andrew Shaw said in the release: “We believe collaboration with private-sector innovators in the design and implementation of digital solutions is fundamental to help women enterprises that have been economically impacted by Covid-19.

“We are confident the fund will create a catalytic effect in the [micro, small and medium-sized enterprise] ecosystems across Asia, showcasing viable digital solutions and sustainable business models to respond to the needs of formal and informal women-led enterprises.”

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