January 23, 2012

MIME backs Kingdom SMEs


The Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy is set to provide a total of US$800,000 to small and medium enterprises as part of an initiative to strengthen the sector’s technical and competitive strategy.

As many as 30 companies would receive the financing, Meng Satheara, the ministry’s general director of industry, said.

“The most important help is to upgrade technological capacity. We will focus chiefly on the food-processing sector in the first phase,” Meng Satheara said of the four-phase project, backed by an Asian Development Bank grant.

Eligibility for the first phase of funding was limited to food and beverage businesses with capital investments of up to $500,000 and with as many as 100 staff, he said.

Financing will range from $5,000 to $30,000, or up to 50 per cent of an enterprise’s total properties.

The first phase of funding would total $300,000, and about 10 companies would be selected through a lottery process to ensure transparency, Meng Satheara said.

“If we had already selected the grantees, they would claim that we only gave money to our relatives,” he said, adding that the initiative would be cancelled if the efforts proved ineffective.

Fourteen SME owners had app-lied for financing so far, according to Vann Socheata, an official at the Ministry of Industry’s SME subcommittee. He said the applicants were in Pailin, Kampong Speu, Pursat, Battambang, Kampong Thom, Phnom Penh and Kampot. 

A review of applications for the first phase of financing began on January 20, although MIME officials could not confirm a date for the final lottery selection of grantees.

“Business owners who did not apply this time will be able to apply during the following phases,” Vann Socheata said.

Chan Sitha, an owner of Y-Chheng Ngov Heng Fish Sauce Enterprise in Kampot province, said he had applied for the money to improve factory hygiene standards and increase production capacity.

Hun Lak, secretary-general of the Federation of Associations for SMEs of Cambodia, said the association did not have the capacity to provide members with financing.

These grants would provide crucial support, Hun Lak said.

“For small businesses, even a small amount of money is better than nothing,” he said.

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