Three years ago, in December 2011, Aeon Microfinance went into business in Cambodia and started providing consumer loans to Cambodians. Deemed a risky project back then, many investment companies didn’t believe in the Japanese microfinance institution’s success. How wrong they were.
The Post sat down with Daisuke Maeda, managing director of Aeon Microfinance on the seventh floor meeting room of a brand new building along Preah Monivong Boulevard.
Visibly confident, the managing director of Aeon Microfinance in Cambodia said that the institution’s revenues in Cambodia were growing much faster than in other countries in the region.
With the business year of 2014 almost at an end Daisuke can already give an accurate estimate for this year’s result. “This year our total sales grossed $24 million. Compared to 2013, we grew about 65 per cent,” Daisuke said.
“Currently we have about 1,500 shops that cooperate with us. They can be telephone shops, motorbike shops, electronic shops and so forth. They receive the applications from clients who need our installment services.
“Normally we receive around 1,500 credit applications every month. Those installment applications can be for motorbikes, mobile phones, electronic appliances, TVs, computers, furniture, agriculture equipment, car accessories and school fees – whatever it is that people need,” Daisuke said.
“Additionally we started the personal loan program that we just approved by March 2014.” The range of a personal loan is usually between $600 and $3,000 for a term period of up to 24 months.
Daisuke continued: “The majority, around 70 per cent, of Aeon Microfinance’s clients are between 25 and 35 years old. They’re very active and would like to improve their lifestyle.
“They can be employees, business owners and farmers that would like to purchase agricultural machinery like tractors,” he added.
Of course money that is borrowed needs to be paid back. Daisuke explained that Cambodia’s economic development is make this credit surge possible.
“Currently the income of people is increasing yearly, so it’s easy for them to pay back.”
The microfinance institution isn’t only a lender to Cambodian consumers and small businesses, it also employs 350 Cambodians and only eight Japanese officers and in management positions. Aeon Microfinance provides their services to the people who are living in Phnom Penh and the surrounding area of Kandal and Kampong Speu provinces.
But Aeon Microfinance also serves the more densely populated areas of Cambodia such as Battambang, Siem Reap and Kampong Cham.
According to the financial manager the company’s effort to serve as many Cambodians as possible will result in the coverage of three more provinces in 2015.
Almost everybody is eligible for credit. According to Daisuke anyone between the age of 18 to 65 who has had a fixed address and employment for the past six months will get credit quickly after application.
Normally approval comes within 24 hours. Complicated documents, witnesses, and deposits are not part of the lending agreement.
Daisuke explains why such formalities showed unnecessary in the Kingdom.
“With three years of experience [in Cambodia], we believe that Cambodian people are trustworthy.”
Cambodians always pay back on time.
“Our business in Cambodia is growing quickly and people are kind to us.”