Cambodia Investment Review
To nurture a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem and to support the growth of SMEs and startups amid this challenging situation, the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has been implementing various policy initiatives through different entrepreneurship ecosystem support institutions, including Entrepreneurship Development Fund (EDF), Khmer Enterprise (KE), Skill Development Fund (SDF), SME Bank of Cambodia, and Credit Guarantee Corporation of Cambodia (CGCC), to name a few.
While the achievements presented by various support and intervention from RGC and related stakeholders, SMEs and startups still face numerous challenges. Therefore, this is an important need for stakeholders in the business ecosystem to be well-informed of the current business needs and opportunities to better design more responsive support programs.
Business opportunities and challenges of SMEs in Cambodia
For EDF/KE to provide relevant and responsive program support and strategic direction, on December 13th, 2022, the Entrepreneurship Development Fund (EDF) organized two consultative workshops on the current business opportunities and challenges of SMEs in Cambodia, and the evaluation of EDF/KE program priorities and way forward.
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The workshops were chaired by H.E. Chea Kok Hong, Director of the EDF’s Secretariat Office, with the participation of honorable representatives from various business associations in different sectors, development partners, venture capital firms, private equity firms, and other Ecosystem Support Organizations (ESOs) in Cambodia.
The workshop was held at Raffles Hotel Le Royal. The main objectives of the workshops are (1) to gather insights on the current status of business ecosystem, including opportunities and challenges and (2) to obtain feedback on the existing EDF/KE core programs and way forward.
The business ecosystem stakeholders have expressed and highlighted that the prospective business ecosystem in Cambodia in the coming year is generally positive, with many emerging opportunities in each sector, mainly Agriculture, Tourism and Digital industry.
Key business challenges raised and discussed in the workshop include:
- Market access and competitiveness
- Access to finance
- High production and transportation costs
- Lack of human resource (skills)
- Other business compliance issues
Consequently, the business association representatives and other stakeholders suggested EDF/KE to further support startups and SMEs in scaling up, promote local products, and facilitate the export of Agriculture and Agro-processing products of Cambodia to overseas markets, especially China.
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Meanwhile, business association representatives and other development partners have appraised and applauded the four core programs of EDF/KE (Capacity Building, Business Networking, Seed Funding and Culture Promotion) for being highly advantageous, relevant, and responsive to the current business needs and for gaining great traction in the startups and SMEs ecosystem.
Furthermore, the ecosystem builders also encouraged and suggested EDF/KE to further enhance the effort in providing investment-ready support, promoting calculated risk in the entrepreneurship culture, and designing additional support programs that are responsive to the ecosystem needs.