The Entrepreneurship Development Fund (EDF) Board of Trustees convened last week to review some of EDF’s notable achievements in 2020 in supporting Cambodia’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem.
EDF Chairman of the Board Vongsey Vissoth reported that through its implementation arm, Khmer Enterprise, the EDF awarded 27 businesses approximately $400,000 in financial assistance.
In addition, the EDF launched the “Angkor 500” programme this year in collaboration with 500 startups, Stanford University and Enterprise Singapore to offer support and guidance to local tech entrepreneurs as they scale regionally and internationally.
In order to build on this momentum, the board laid down a strategic vision for 2021 designed to expand entrepreneurship and support for local small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to promote the use of technology in SMEs and to foster partnerships and collaborations with relevant institutions.
The Ministry of Economy and Finance established the EDF in mid-2019 as a public trust fund to provide financial and non-financial support to SMEs, startups and entrepreneurial ecosystem builders.
As a new policy instrument, the EDF’s goal is to promote and support dynamic entrepreneurship, economic diversification and innovation, as well as job creation, particularly in the here and now as Cambodia continues to weather the economic impact of the global pandemic.
To achieve this policy objective, EDF created Khmer Enterprise as an autonomous administrative operator to implement four main programmes.
Among these are capacity upgrading, which uses a cost-sharing model to give SMEs and startups training; networking, to help SMEs and startups create strategic relationships with local and international mentors, investors and partners; entrepreneurial culture promotion for the development of mindsets ready to embrace innovation, risk and reward, and a commitment to seed funding, which uses a matching grant and co-investment approach to support and upgrade SMEs and startups.
The EDF’s reliability as a platform for boosting entrepreneurial activities is founded upon its innovative leadership and operating structure, which comprises its Board of Trustees, the EDF Secretariat and Khmer Enterprise.
Together these three branches promote institutional strength and sustainable development by establishing a governance system of checks and balances and clear key performance indicators. The three also play key roles in implementing a public-private partnership (PPP) programme delivery model that is responsive to the business community and in line with economic policy direction.
In addition to Vissoth, the Board of Trustees is made up of six other high-profile members selected for their expertise in their respective occupations and industries.
They include Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Economy and Finance Phan Phalla, World Bridge Chairman Sear Rithy, President and Group Managing Director ACLEDA Bank Plc In Channy, Techo Startup Center Chairman Kong Mary and EDF Secretariat Director Chea Kok Hong.
The board’s membership deliberately includes public, private and international representatives to ensure that the EDF has a diverse range of management experiences to draw from as it contributes to Cambodia’s socio-economic development in the ongoing fourth industrial revolution.
In addition, the EDF continuously studies relevant support policies that could benefit and promote the startup and SME ecosystems, while closely monitoring its programme implementation duties.