Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Cambodia can unlock significant growth opportunities by accessing the securities market, a concept explored in detail during a seminar co-organised by the Securities and Exchange Regulator of Cambodia (SERC), APM (Cambodia) Securities Co Ltd and Asset Pro Management Co Ltd on June 5. 

The event was supported by the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation and the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Cambodia (YEAC) with the participation of more than 30 entrepreneurs at the Non-Bank Financial Services Authority (NBFSA).

Sou Socheat, Director-General of SERC, emphasised the importance of the seminar for Cambodian entrepreneurs. 

"This workshop is crucial for entrepreneurs to understand the securities market, using Thailand as a case study. Marketable companies are those that receive market financing to capitalise and develop through this cash mechanism," he explained.

Traditionally, SMEs have relied on banks or personal networks to raise capital. However, the securities market offers a new avenue for funding, bringing together numerous investors eager to support these enterprises. 

Socheat said that 50,000 indeividuals are currently registered to buy securities and provided insights on how businesses can attract these investors by adhering to market standards and preparing proper documentation.

Sirivipa Supantanet, advisor to the board of directors of Asset Pro Management, shares information Thailand’s securities market. Hong Raksmey

“The [workshop] teaches entrepreneurs how to establish their market presence and prepare themselves with standard legal documents to attract investors,” he said.

Huot Pheng, undersecretary of state at ministry, cited the 2022 Cambodian Census, which reported 753,670 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs/SMEs) in Cambodia's formal and informal economies. 

The manufacturing sector alone hosts 44,625 registered SMEs, which provide 466,594 jobs. Pheng noted that 391 registered in technology nurseries under the Cambodia Data eXchange (CamDX) had created 1,321 jobs by 2024. 

He said that 20 enterprises are already participating in the securities market at the request of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia (SECC).

"The participation of business owners in the Cambodian securities market is a unique activity that contributes to attracting more investment and fostering national economic growth," said Pheng. 

He also noted that the market helps publicise the economic activities of enterprises involved in production, business and services, provided they meet competitive standards.

El Chhean, an entrepreneur in the soy sauce business since 2017, expressed interest in the securities market. 

"I am interested in entering the [market]. With this participation, we can easily access additional working capital. But because it is new for us, I am studying the possibility," said Chhean, who attended the seminar to learn more.

Socheat reiterated the crucial role of SMEs in the country’s economy, accounting for more than 98% of enterprises and contributing up to 58% of gross domestic product (GDP). 

"SMEs are the backbone of the economy, especially in creating local job opportunities. The bigger the SMEs, the more they can employ," he stated. 

More than 30 entrepreneurs attended the seminar on June 5. Supplied

Currently, 22 are registered on the securities market with a capitalisation of nearly $400 million. 

He announced that three to five companies are expected to register in 2024, with three holding capital of over $100 million.

Socheat explained that businesses entering the stock market can reduce their reliance on bank loans, as they generate their own capital to repay debts. 

He pointed out that listing on the exchange allows enterprises to secure lower interest rates on borrowed funds.

"Entering the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX) is a choice made by entrepreneurs, and the institution acts as the mediator in this listing," he said.

Sirivipa Supantanet, advisor to the board of directors of Asset Pro Management, highlighted the economic value SMEs bring to GDP growth. 

"In 2019, SMEs contributed around 40% to [Thailand’s] GDP growth. By 2027, this contribution is expected to increase to 60%. Thailand’s SEC and the capital market regulator play a crucial role in enabling SMEs to raise funds through the capital market," she said. 

Supantanet noted that the number of SMEs listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand has grown significantly, with 123 companies currently listed on the SME board out of over 700.