Cambodia Investment Review
In a move designed to overhaul Cambodia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, Khmer Enterprise and Swisscontact unveiled the groundbreaking Enhancing Entrepreneurial Ecosystem and Investments (3Ei) initiative. This ambitious project aims to strengthen collaboration within the entrepreneurial ecosystem and boost impact investing in Cambodia, through a significant rebranding and strategic realignment of Cambodia’s approach to nurturing its startup ecosystem.
The 3Ei initiative has been designed inline with the Royal Government of Cambodia Digital Economy and Society Framework for the 4th Industrial Revolution[SC1] . Recognizing the potential of digital transformation, the government aims to bolster entrepreneurship and startups, believing them to be key drivers of the nation’s economy
Injecting resources into the sector
The 3Ei initiative primarily targets Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs), a vital segment often overlooked in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. SGBs, defined as commercially viable firms with a workforce between 5 to 250 and seeking growth capital ranging from $20,000 to $2 million, significantly contribute to Cambodia’s economy, contributing 58% to the GDP and generating 70% of employment.
However, despite their noteworthy impact, SGBs have encountered challenges, chief among them a $3.7 billion gap in formal SGB credit. The 3Ei initiative aims to assist address these issues by injecting resources into the sector and fortifying the necessary support mechanisms to ensure sustained growth.
Dr. Chhieng Vanmunin, CEO of Khmer Enterprise, underscored the transformative potential of the 3Ei initiative. He outlined its purpose as a comprehensive platform offering an amalgamation of financial and non-financial support to local businesses. He envisions this platform to unlock unprecedented growth potential in Cambodia’s business landscape.
A four-pronged strategy
The 3Ei initiative proposes a four-pronged strategy for rejuvenating the entrepreneurial ecosystem and attracting robust investments for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Cambodia. These pillars include Connection for Collaboration, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Blended Finance Facility, and Data.
The initiative, in a bid to comprehensively support ecosystem builders, introduces six distinct brands, including Give A Day, CAMESCO23, Ecosystem Builders Network (EBN), Data for Investment (D4I), Strengthen Entrepreneurship and Innovation (SEI), and Entrepreneur Investment Support (EIS). These brands will serve as the conduits for providing a multitude of supports and services to Entrepreneurship Support Organizations (ESOs), Startups, and SMEs.
Support from international organizations
Backed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Ministry of Economy and Finance via Khmer Enterprise, and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the 3Ei initiative has garnered considerable support from international organizations. The project is also in strategic partnership with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation to conduct a landscape study on Gender Lens Investing in Cambodia and Global Steering Group for Impact Investing.
Markus Buerli, the Director of Cooperation of SDC, acknowledged the initiative’s alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals set by Agenda 2030. On the other hand, Kim Junsu from KOICA emphasized the initiative’s potential for fostering socio-economic development in line with KOICA’s policies.
The 3Ei initiative, sets the stage for a dramatic paradigm shift in Cambodia’s entrepreneurial landscape. By addressing longstanding obstacles, nurturing collaboration, and stimulating innovation, it holds promising potential for galvanizing the startup ecosystem and propelling Cambodia towards a dynamic, entrepreneurial future.