Cambodia Investment Review

Transforming Cambodian SMEs: PRISME’s First Year of Intensive Mentoring Delivers Impactful Results

Transforming Cambodian SMEs: PRISME’s First Year of Intensive Mentoring Delivers Impactful Results

Cambodia Investment Review

Platform Impact, in a strategic partnership with Cambodian Investors Corporation (CIC), has completed the first year of its Program Impact for SMEs (PRISME), an innovative and transformative three-year Ventures Building program. The program aims to build an ecosystem for Cambodian SMEs to encapsulate ESG and enhance their competitiveness and ability to scale up to attract investors or partners with the program achieving six investable equitable proposals, for which Platform Impact had secured to date over $800,000 with subsequent funds raising to be pursued up to $10 million.

David Van, the Director of Public Private Partnership at Platform Impact, explained that Cambodian SMEs actively contribute substantially to the national GDP but needed to be guided and mentored to enhance their competitiveness in a growingly sophisticated global trading environment.

“PRISME aimed at bringing more tangible outputs whereby a cohort of ten local SMEs in Cambodia would undergo intensive mentoring by a team of Venture Builders dedicated to helping those firms in learning about ESG concepts and incorporating them into their expansion plans,” he said.

More than $800K of investable proposals to date

According to Platform Impact, the first-year phase of PRISME has been concluded with six investable equitable proposals, with over $800,000 committed so far to several firms in the cohort. Moreover, over sixty forms of business linkages have been facilitated by the team for the locally Impact Driven Entrepreneurs of the cohort.

Despite the strong support provided through various programs and regulations, SMEs and start-ups in Cambodia still face numerous challenges, including the lack of access to finance and investment, limited provision of public services, and institutional coordination.

Players in the PRSIME Cambodia ecosystem.

Reflecting on the opportunities and challenges different entrepreneurship ecosystem support institutions 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 supporting organizations including Entrepreneurship Development Fund (EDF) and Khmer Enterprise (KE) need to further support startups and SMEs in scaling up, promoting local products, and facilitating the export of Agriculture and Agro-processing products of Cambodia to overseas markets, especially China.

Read more: EDF hold a consultative workshop to discuss the current business situation and support mechanisms for Cambodia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem

PRISME is addressing these challenges by offering a transformational approach to capacity building for Cambodian SMEs. Unlike previous training programs, PRISME offers a concrete “end product” whereby recipient companies leave with a certification document and tangible outputs that enable them to enhance their competitiveness and scale up to attract investors or partners.

Van added, “We are proud of the achievements of the first-year phase of PRISME and are committed to pursuing further fundraising beyond its conclusion. The Royal Government of Cambodia has placed a continued focus on the development of the private sector, especially entrepreneurship ecosystem, through numerous initiatives and policies. PRISME is playing a crucial role in upholding the growth of business and entrepreneurial ecosystems in Cambodia.”

A new precedent for training programs in Cambodia

PRISME is co-funded by OXFAM and Khmer Enterprise, a unit of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The team recruited to implement PRISME underwent intensive pressure to deliver and worked tirelessly in the interactive mentorship of the first cohort of ten firms from various sectors, including Healthcare, Agriculture, Waste Management, Education, and Sports.

Ms. Sophoan Phea, National Director of Oxfam, H.E. Dr. Vanmunin Chhieng, CEO of Khmer Enterprise and Mr. David Van, Director of Public-Private Partnership of Platform Impact. Photo: Khmer Enterprise.

PRISME’s transformative approach to capacity building for Cambodian SMEs is setting a new precedent for training programs in the country. The program’s tangible outputs enable SMEs to enhance their competitiveness and scale up to attract investors or partners.

As Cambodia aims to achieve the status of an upper middle-income economy by 2030 and subsequently a high-level income economy by 2050, initiatives such as PRISME are crucial in upholding the growth of business and entrepreneurial ecosystems in the country.

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