With Cambodians facing the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and the devastation of recent flooding across the country, the Kingdom’s banking and finance institutions (BFIs) are extending a helping hand in difficult times.
Since the beginning of 2020, Cambodia’s BFIs have raised more than $500,000 in donations for health, sanitary and food supplies to support vulnerable communities.
“Banking and finance are ‘people businesses’ at their heart and are driven by the ambition of helping people succeed and prosper through formal financial services. But this ambition clearly extends to helping people in need in any way we can” said In Channy, chairman of the Association of Banks in Cambodia (ABC).
According to a recent Association survey, more than half of Cambodia’s BFIs have embedded social impact in their core mission statements, with several committing a fixed percentage of revenue to support social causes related to the environment, education, healthcare and financial inclusion.
“MFIs in particular have a special place in post-war Cambodian society and the vast majority of our members put social impact at the heart of their operations,” said Cambodia Microfinance Association (CMA) Chairman Kea Borann.
“But it is about more than charitable donations and volunteer work, although those are important, and extends to the way the MFIs prioritise their customers’ wellbeing in everything they do,” he said.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic we have redoubled efforts to help clients by restructuring more than 270,000 loans valued at more than $3 billion with more work ongoing as the extent of the pandemic and the effects on the economy become clearer,” he said.
“We are also working with our members to prepare for legislation currently being drafted that will embed client protection in Cambodian law, a move we strongly endorse,” noted Borann, noting that Cambodia’s 9 leading MFIs and banks are already certified by the Smart Client Protection Principles, the global body that certifies microfinance institutions’ adherence to client safeguarding principles.
Beyond tightening up legislation, the associations and the National Bank Cambodia have been accelerating efforts to improve financial literacy and inclusion in the Kingdom with an ambitious campaign explaining
the basics of sustainable borrowing and lending.
The campaign will include social and traditional media as well as targeted workshops for SMEs, female entrepreneurs and agriculture businesses to improve the quality of borrowing among traditionally ‘underbanked’ segments of the population.
“Our industry is in a state of almost constant evolution as we face the challenges of the pandemic as well as the opportunities of an increasingly diversified economy where digital adoption is changing the way everyone does business,” said Channy.
“The finance sector is committed to ensuring this evolution continues, putting our customers at the centre of everything we do through improved protections and better financial education to help them withstand the global economic downturn brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic.”
This article was first published in Khmer Times. All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.