Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Phan Phalla has outlined several steps the government has taken to support the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

While addressing a February 19 public forum on the 2024 national Budget Law (BL), which includes a number of important mechanisms aiming to strengthen SMEs, Phalla also outlined several investment incentives, provided by new sub-decrees to support the government’s efforts to diversify the economy and promote the ease of doing business.

“I want to make people aware of the work we have done relating to the development of SMEs, as I am concerned there are some people operating in this sector who may not be informed about all of the support that is available,” he said.

He explained that the Kingdom’s investment law has been amended to allow investors to export many products tariff-free. The idea behind the amendment is to allow SMEs to connect with larger companies. In addition, the government established the state-owned SME Bank of Cambodia in 2020, with the sole goal of supporting SMEs.

To date, the bank has provided favourable financing to 3,200 SMEs, with a total loan balance of approximately $490 million.

Te Tang Po, chairman of the Federation of Associations for SMEs of Cambodia (FASMEC), has previously noted how the SME Bank – as well as the Credit Guarantee Corporation of Cambodia (CGCC), the Agricultural and Rural Development Bank (ARDB) and some commercial banks – has provided capital to boost the sector. Although the financing was beneficial, he believes it was up to the association members to grow their businesses. 

“No matter how much support the government provides, I want those in the SME sector to keep applying themselves and working hard. While the SME Bank, CGCC and ARDB provide low-interest loans, it is crucial that we repay them so the bank can provide capital to others,” he said.

Keo Mom, president of the Cambodia Women Entrepreneurs Association (CWEA), said the government’s assistance for the SME sector, especially through low-interest loans, has made a large contribution to business owners’ ability to rehabilitate and expand their operations post-pandemic, as well as other global crises.

“We have also seen strong efforts by the government to attract foreign investment. Of course, as more and more investors come, other sectors such as retails and SMEs will benefit directly and indirectly, through supplying goods and services to larger businesses,” she added.

She believes that the government’s close attention to promoting the value of SMEs has created jobs, promoted supply chains and production, and expanded access to domestic and international markets. 

The government has designated June 27 as the annual National Day for Small and Medium Enterprises.