The Amret journey – which began three decades ago with the assisting of farmers with loans of only $100 – has been one of remarkable growth.
With the embracing of digital technologies, the prominent microfinance institution (MFI) offers a suite of financial services and constantly focuses on the needs of its customers.
What have been Amret’s greatest achievements over the past 30 years?
For 30 years – since 1991 – Amret has been fostering financial inclusion, providing access to financial services to more than 500,000 customers ranging from low income farmers to SMEs that are underserved or unbanked.
Our greatest achievements are not just measured by the number of customers we serve but are about making an impact for our customers and their communities. Throughout the years, we have grown with the communities we have served.
We build meaningful and personal relationships with all our customers by giving them every attention to meet their financial needs in the most responsible manner.
Today, 68 per cent of our customers are women. We focus on empowering women financially and believe that with additional and more adequate access to finance, women can contribute much more to Cambodian economic growth and community wellbeing.
We have since built our reputation as one of the most responsible and credible financial institutions in the country, with 158 branches including doorstep services.
How has Amret transformed over the years?
Amret has grown from a microcredit project implemented by a French NGO with the primary objective of accelerating financial inclusion in Cambodia, with a special focus on farmers.
With this vision, we went into the market with a single product – group loans – to meet the needs of farmers. The largest loan amount was only $100.
Amret has come a long way since. Now customers experience a broader range of products beyond simple microcredit – from savings, loans, funds transfers to bill payments and insurance – through a variety of distribution channels like ATMs, doorstep services and mobile banking.
Since 2015, Amret has become a subsidiary of Advans Group, an international group of microfinances present in nine countries.
Our strategies have evolved with the digital age and modern consumer needs. Amret has invested substantially in IT infrastructure, transforming our business operations to provide seamless banking services to customers.
Now, after 30 years, we have become a fully fledged MDI [microfinance deposit taking institution] and a fully client-centric financial institution with total assets of over $1.2 billion.
What makes Amret different?
Our philosophy is always about customers, and this is clearly captured in our tagline – “With you, for you. Always”. The motto is simple, and reflects us putting customers first and fostering trustful relationships.
Customer transactions are never treated as business – to us it’s always a personal relationship which exudes trust.
This is in our DNA, and it is for this reason that our customers so highly value our relationship with them.
Customers believe we are fair and feel they are being treated as a friend or as a business partner. As a service provider, we are always improving our services to meet the changing needs of our customers.
Has the Covid-19 pandemic changed Amret’s way of operating?
The pandemic hasn’t changed our mission to our customers and the communities we serve.
Since the crisis started, we have been putting in place all possible solutions to support all our customers affected by this global pandemic.
Our highest priority throughout this period has been to ensure the safety of our customers and our staff.
We have deepened our business relationships with those customers who are in a challenging position financially and consider their financial difficulties in these demanding times by adjusting their repayments through proactive policies to grant grace periods to help them maintain their businesses and their livelihoods.
In light of the unprecedented challenges, we are continuing to focus on helping our customers recover from the impacts of Covid-19.
I am proud that Amret was the first MDI in Cambodia to renew its Client Protection Principles certification from Smart Campaign in December 2020, in the midst of this crisis.
At the same time, we are adapting our operating model to drive higher efficiency and resilience to cope with these business disruptions.
How do you see Amret performing in the future?
Amret will continue with its vision and on its sustainable journey going forward, as a financially strong institution entirely devoted to serving its customers responsibly.
Looking beyond the immediate threats and ongoing effects of the Covid-19 crisis, there is still much to be accomplished.
We are committed to playing a major role in supporting a stronger recovery pace in serving customers better through our multiple delivery channels.
We look forward to working with our partners to continue expanding responsible financial services in Cambodia and play our part in building the communities we serve.
What message do you have on this anniversary?
As we celebrate our 30th anniversary this year, I would like to humbly thank everyone who has contributed to the success of Amret over the past 30 years – from current staff to those who have retired.
I take this opportunity to thank the board and shareholders for their invaluable guidance and direction.
I have the deepest appreciation for the contributions of our business partners, the government and all authorities, and all our valued clients.
We are all proud to contribute locally and support our communities to prosper.