Cambodia Investment Review

Leader Talks: Molika Meas on How iCare is Supporting low-income Factory Workers

Leader Talks: Molika Meas on How iCare is Supporting low-income Factory Workers

Harrison White

Phnom Penh-based social enterprise iCare Group is well known in the Cambodia start-up scene as one of the fastest growing ventures in the country. iCare operates an employee benefits platform for large factories where workers throughout the country are able to sustainably buy everyday household items like fridges, fans and rice cookers. Some of iCare’s investors include EMIA, the IFC, Norfund and a host of other European DFIs.

Speaking to CIR Leader Talks, Ms Molika Meas, Group CEO of iCare, highlighted the importance of iCare’s services offering for its customers: “Our commitment to real financial inclusion for a historically overlooked segment of society is our primary focus, and iCare’s unique market position stems from its commitment to empowering a population segment that has had limited access to traditional financial services”. This lack of access has often led these workers to resort to unregulated and high-risk borrowing schemes, Molika explained, and “our product range is specifically tailored to meet all the needs of women factory workers, as well as their families and communities.”

As of the second quarter of 2023, the platform has garnered over 70,000 active members, 90% of whom are women. The company operates directly in over 100 factories across Cambodia and Laos, and it has shown exponential growth accompanied by impressive margins.

Keen Focus on Becoming a Key Player in Gender-Lens Investing

Looking ahead, iCare has ambitious plans for the near future. “Our strategy aims to continue growing our business and to support factory workers through a multi-channel financing approach. Furthermore, we have a keen focus on becoming a key player in gender-lens investing,” Molika shared.

Not only does iCare aim to revolutionize consumer finance, but it also has measurable social impact metrics. The company claims that over 90% of its users have become more productive, whilst saving an average of 30% in total cost of ownership for products and up to 10 days in time savings. Additionally, iCare’s Corporate Social Responsibility programs add value to a comprehensive chain of stakeholders, from suppliers to factory managers and workers.

Read more: iCare Benefits Cambodia Partners with Forte Life Assurance To Provide Free Life Assurance Policy

A new Equity Raise on the Horizon

iCare is also planning a fresh equity raise to support its exponential growth since the end of the COVID pandemic: “this new equity funding round aims to capitalize the business and lean into this exponential growth to be able to serve more workers, more factories and more provinces,” Molika stated. This announcement follows a previous significant debt facility of $15 million from Singaporean-based firm Helicap reported by Cambodia Investment Review in June 2022.

Read more: iCare Group raises $15M facility from Singapore-based FinTech firm Helicap

This new round of equity funding, which is expected to close between Q1 and Q2 2024, “would bolster the company’s unique business model by allowing iCare to invest in diversifying its product line to appeal to a broader audience and onboarding more factories into the company’s program, which would significantly increase the user base”, Molika said.

According to the company, its total addressable market across Cambodia and Laos is estimated to be around $4 billion. With an average monthly salary of $200 for factory workers in Cambodia and $140 in Laos, the potential market consists of approximately 4 million workers.

A Recent Branding Refresh

In tandem with the funding round, iCare is undergoing a strategic rebranding, which includes the introduction of a new logo. “Our new logo serves as a symbol of our commitment to embracing our customers with open arms and continuous dedication to their well-being,” Molika elaborated.

The company told Cambodia Investment Review is ideally actively seeking a local strategic partnership as it prepares for its new equity and debt funding round. “We are in the market for a local or regional partner who is aligned with iCare’s vision and mission,” concluded Molika. With these multiple initiatives, iCare Group is positioning itself as not just a financial solution but as a driving force for societal change and financial inclusion in the region.

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