The Ministry of Industry and Handicraft is working on the creation of a government-backed federation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), a body that will act as a representative for all SMEs in the country and function as a bridge between them and the authorities.
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Um Sotha, spokesman for the ministry, said they are now drafting the sub-decree needed to establish the federation, which, he said, will provide a channel of communication between the authorities and the SME community to address issues relevant to small entrepreneurs.
“We want to establish a body to represent the entire SME community in the country.
“With an institution that covers all SMEs in the country, we will be able to create policy and initiatives that do not exclude anyone,” Mr Sotha said, adding that one of the functions of the body will be able to collect and analyze information about the SME community to produce data that can be used to help the sector.
According to the ministry spokesman, the sub-decree is now being drafted with input from the private sector and other ministries.
During a meeting that took place last week, Cham Prasidh, the Minister of Industry and Handicraft, asked the Federation of Associations of Small and Medium Enterprises of Cambodia (Fasmec), the biggest SME association in Cambodia, to provide input during the drafting of the sub-decree.
In his meeting with the minister, Fasmec’s president Te Taing Por hinted at cooperation, but raised doubts regarding the necessity to create a new association for SMEs.
“I welcome the move and my association is happy to provide input during the drafting of the sub-decree,” Mr Taing Por said, before hinting at the fact that the proposed association may be redundant, since Fasmec already operates in every Cambodian province and acts as liaison between the community of small entrepreneurs and the government.
“Whether or not the new federation comes to be, we will continue our work,” he said.
There are about 530,000 SMEs and microenterprises in the kingdom, but only about 20 percent of them are registered with the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft, according to Mr Sotha.
Lim Heng, vice president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, said there is value in the new initiative, as the proposed association will help exploit opportunities for small entrepreneurs and push the sector forward.
“It will make SMEs work together towards a common goal. Together, we will face problems in the sector and find solutions in an efficient manner.”
Mr Heng added that the biggest issue for Cambodian SMEs continues to be securing financing, a problem that SMEs associations in the country have so far failed to resolve.
In December, the government announced plans to set up a SME Bank that will provide credit exclusively to SMEs and micro-enterprises.