Information Centre Launched For SMEs

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business information centre SMEs phnom penh
A file photo shows a woman speaking at a women entrepreneurs’ event in Phnom Penh. KHMER TIMES / NYKA

The Young Entrepreneurs Association of Cambodia (YEAC) in partnership with the Cambodia Women Entrepreneurs Association, Cambodia Chamber of Commerce and Mekong Business Initiative yesterday launched a groundbreaking Business Information Centre (BIC) to facilitate and expedite the start-up process for new businesses.

The BIC will provide small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) a one-stop resource for up-to-date information on business laws and regulations, opportunities and business support services. It aims to play a leading role in clearing obstacles to business incorporation and formalisation.

Sok Piseth, president of the YEAC, said lack of access to reliable and up-to-date information leads to an uneven compliance with rules and regulations and a loss of motivation. “Cambodia’s entrepreneurial energy is at an all-time high. Through the BIC, we want to ensure that entrepreneurs can reach their full potential,” said Piseth.

The BIC received technical support from the Asian Development Bank and Australian government-supported Mekong Business Initiative (MBI). The MBI worked alongside YEAC to document and evaluate business registration and licensing processes, giving special attention to gaps between formal and actual processes. The results of this work coupled with feedback and suggestions from around 300 other SMEs were used to formulate the establishment of the BIC.

The centre will act as an open platform for SME support services, including guides and toolkits, a database of financial support services, and tailored industry market insights. The BIC will also provide business matching, training information, job listings and an SME event calendar.

Dominic Mellor, senior ABD economist and head of the MBI, said the BIC is a necessary step towards fomenting a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in Cambodia. “This unified information resource will be a game changer for entrepreneurs who would otherwise face days of burdensome research spanning multiple ministries and departments and it will promote transparency in the implementation of licensing procedures and regulations,” he said.

Cham Prasidth, senior minister of Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts, said there are about 500,000 SMEs in the country but only around 50,000 were registered with the ministry. “The BIC will help SMEs with registration and will provide them with information if they still don’t understand the registration process,” said Prasidth.

In February, the government offered a two-year income tax exemption to SMEs that registered with the Ministry of Economy and Finance before the end of 2018. The move was aimed at encouraging unregistered SMEs to register and attract overseas investors to come and run SMEs, according to Te Taing Por, the president of the Federation of Associations for Small and Medium Enterprises of Cambodia.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.