VISA Inc has joined hands with the government in the ongoing Promoting Financial Literacy for Women and Women Entrepreneurs Project, which aims to boost productivity and efficiency in the Kingdom’s socio-economic development, the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) said on Thursday.
Visa will provide the NBC and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs a $50,000 grant for the project, which will run between August 2019 and August 2020 and cover Kratie, Stung Treng, Preah Vihear and Siem Reap provinces.
Speaking at a financial literacy seminar, which is part of the project, Visa Country Manager for Cambodia Chum Monika lauded the project, saying it will improve women’s financial management and their overall wellbeing.
“The project will benefit women entrepreneurs in Cambodia,” she said, adding that financial knowledge will be passed on to future generations and benefit the national economy in the long run as well.
“When one improves oneself, the economy improves as well. The community will grow, small businesses will be stable and prosperous, household debt will be more easily managed and household income will be higher,” she said.
The prevalent belief that women entrepreneurs in Cambodia are less outgoing and have a lack of leadership skills and the required initiative to run a business is a misconception, said the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, in a report released in August last year.
The report said 90 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises owned by women were profitable in 2018.
Speaking at the seminar, Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi said financial illiteracy has led to many women taking loans from the informal sectors with exorbitant interest rates and falling into debt.
“This project will provide financial training to women entrepreneurs and reduce their vulnerability beset by a lack of financial literacy.
“Entrepreneurial women will gain the ability and confidence to manage their family finances and also participate in financial decision-making,” said Kantha Phavi.
NBC deputy governor Neav Chanthana said access to financial knowledge is fundamental in improving financial inclusion in Cambodia.
In an effort to increase access to quality financial services, the government adopted the National Strategy for Financial Inclusiveness 2019-2025, said Chanthana.
The strategy, she said, aims to reduce the number of unbanked women from 27 per cent to 13 per cent, expand the use of formal financial services from 59 per cent to 70 per cent by 2025, improve the wellbeing of families and support national economic growth.
“To achieve the above targets, the government has identified the promotion of rights, increased consumer protection and increased transparency in the financial sector as priorities,” said Chanthana.
She said 59 per cent of Cambodia’s adult population has access to formal financial services, of which 17 per cent is with banking institutions, 42 per cent with other financial institutions, 12 per cent with informal financial services and 29 per cent with both formal and informal financial services.