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Chance for small, medium and startup firms to receive funds

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
Thaung Enterprise, a salt supplier in Kampot, is one of 128 applicants selected to get funding in the first round of the KE Assistance Package scheme. Supplied

Khmer Enterprise (KE), a unit of the Entrepreneurship Development Fund established by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), is calling for applications for the KE Assistance Package second round for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and startups. Applications opened from July 27 onward.

The KE Assistance Package is a strategic programme that addresses and mitigates the challenges entrepreneurs are encountering. KE successfully conducted the assistance package for the first round in April this year, when 128 applications from startups and SMEs were selected to receive the funding package.

The applicants were from 14 provincial capital cities: Kampong Cham, Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Kandal, Kampot, Pursat, Battambang, Kampong Chhnang, Prey Veng, Pailin, Kampong Speu, Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh.

In response to challenges Cambodian entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises are currently facing, the MEF has established several policies that address key measures, such as relief funds and special loans for businesses, along with many other special initiatives, including the “Khmer Enterprise Assistance Package”, said Chhieng Vanmunin, chief executive officer (CEO) of KE.

“Through the first round, we noticed that all the startups and SMEs possess different capabilities and innovations. Their ideas and business insights have much potential and should be assisted with either financial or non-financial assistance,” Vanmunin said.

“For the first round, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth will announce the package and the amount of the funding soon,” he said.

He added that the first and second rounds plan to cover all provincial capitals.

“We started to target the top revenue collection first and then move to other provinces,” he explained.

Thyda Thaung, founder of Thaung Enterprise, a salt suppler in Kampot, and one among the 128 applicants  selected to get funding in the first round of the KE Assistance Package, told Khmer Times that the package covers a three-month period and has conditions attached.

“I think it’s good for this package to help SMEs during the COVID-19 crisis time. Even though it can’t cover the whole problem, at least it help one aspect of business to fight during this time,” Thyda said.

“I had sought $100,000. But I do not know whether we will get this amount or not – as you may know as we have not yet received it,” Thyda added.

“We have divided it into three categories,” she said.

“During the pandemic things got worse. So the first package will be used for supporting farmers with raw materials,” she added.

“The second to help with rental and staff and third will be to deliver marketing and business development,” she added.

Thyda said that before getting selected, first the business should be local and struggling during the pandemic. Then a pitching selection will be organised for those shortlisted. The judge will evaluate if a company qualifies enough to get the grant or investment (equity) for a business.

KE Assistance Package is run in four phases. First, KE posts an announcement on its Facebook page and through Khmer Enterprise networks
to raise awareness of the programme and to call for applications. Then it starts filtering and scoring each application with standardised scoring criteria. Next, it creates a shortlist based on final scores.

Vanmunin said the third phase involves KE inviting shortlisted startups and SMEs to present their business ideas and marketing strategy before a panel of judges. The panel consists of business experts, venture capitalists and investors.

The final stage is the announcement of the successful candidates who will receive the assistance package from the programme to help the winning startups and SMEs to promote their businesses, products and services.

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