Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Businesswomen set to get low-interest loans from SME Bank

Businesswomen set to get low-interest loans from SME Bank

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CWEA president Keo Mom and SME Bank CEO Lim Aun shake hands after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on September 9. SME BANK

Businesswomen set to get low-interest loans from SME Bank

Business ladies within the Cambodia Women Entrepreneurs Association (CWEA) will be able to access loans at annual interest rates of “0.25 percentage points below market” from the state-owned Small and Medium Enterprise Bank of Cambodia Plc (SME Bank), according to the CWEA chief.

CWEA president Keo Mom confirmed this figure to The Post after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to this effect with SME Bank CEO Lim Aun on September 9.

Mom, who is also CEO of Ly Ly Food Industry Co Ltd, one of the Kingdom’s largest food processing enterprises, told The Post that the main purpose of the MoU was to establish long-term cooperation between the CWEA and SME Bank to create and support financing packages for women entrepreneurs and foster growth among the Kingdom’s small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME).

She said the 0.25 percentage point discount would provide women entrepreneurs with access to financing to expand and grow their businesses.

Speaking at the signing ceremony on September 9, SME Bank’s Aun similarly commented that the MoU would provide the SMEs within the CWEA with favourable credit terms to expand and ensure smooth and sustainable operations.

Meanwhile, SME Bank reported that 148 businesses involved in the tourism value chain – all SMEs – have received $19.86 million in loans under the Tourism Recovery Co-Financing Scheme (TRCS) as of August 31, equivalent to 13.24 per cent of the $150 million budget. Of that, 41 per cent or just over $8 million went to women-owned businesses.

Broken down by category, hotels accounted for the most funds, at 25 per cent, followed by guesthouses (23 per cent), restaurants (40 per cent) and other businesses (12 per cent).

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, and is currently implemented with the support of 19 participating financial institutions (PFI). The scheme’s lending rules and procedures were officially established on July 1, which opened the door for loan applications.

The scheme was financed by a counterpart fund between the government and financial institutions, with $75 million of the national budget to be disbursed in the form of loans issued by 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 project include a maximum interest rate of 6.5 per cent per annum, a 16-month grace period on principal payments, loan term of up to seven years, loan amount of up to $400,000, and the option of receiving funds in either riel or US dollars.

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