EDF Creates Reliable Foundation to Support Local Startups and SMEs

During the “7th Entrepreneurship Development Fund Board of Directors Meeting” on Tuesday, the Entrepreneurship Development Fund (EDF) Board of Trustees convened to review some of the EDF’s notable achievements in 2020 to support Cambodia’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem.


In a year marked by an economically devastating global pandemic, EDF Chairman of the Board of Trustees H.E. Vongsey Vissoth reported that through its implementing arm, Khmer Enterprise, the EDF awarded 27 businesses approximately $400,000 in financial assistance. In addition, the EDF launched the “Angkor 500” program 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. Wanting to build upon this momentum, the board laid down a strategic vision for 2021 to expand entrepreneurship and support for local small and medium enterprises (SMEs), promote the use of technology in SMEs, and create 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, especially now as Cambodia continues to weather the economic impact of a global pandemic.


To achieve this policy objective, EDF created Khmer Enterprise as an autonomous administrative operator to implement 4 main programs. This includes Capacity Upgrading, which uses a cost-sharing model to give SMEs and startups training; Networking, which helps SMEs and startups create strategic relationship with local and international mentors, investors, and partners; Entrepreneurial Culture Promotion, which develops new mindsets that embrace innovation, risk and reward, and commitment; and 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, comprising the Board of Trustees, the EDF Secretariat, and Khmer Enterprise. Altogether, the three branches promote institutional strength and sustainable development by establishing a governance system of checks and balances and clear key performance indicators. All three also play key roles in implementing a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program delivery model that is responsive to the business community and in line with economic policy direction. 


Having H.E. Dr. Aun Pornmoniroth as the honorable chairman and H.E. Vongsey Vissoth as the chairman, the Board of Trustees is made up of five other high-profile members selected for their expertise in their respective occupations and industries. This includes Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy and Finance H.E. Phan Phalla, World Bridge Chairman Okhna Sear Rithy, President & Group Managing Director ACLEDA Bank PLC Dr. In Channy, Techo Startup Center Chairman H.E. Dr. Kong Mary, and EDF Secretariat Director H.E. 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 supportive policies to benefit and promote the startup and SME ecosystems, while closely monitoring program implementation duties.


In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Khmer Enterprise rolled out the Assistance Package as emergency relief to startups and SMEs in the form of grant matching, loan referrals, equity investments, capacity building, and business consultations, etc. After two rounds of fielding pitches, Khmer Enterprise awarded 27 startups and SMEs approximately $400,000 to allow entrepreneurs to solve their business bottlenecks and to keep their businesses afloat. This achievement demonstrated our ability to balance customer needs with program objectives. We are also excited to roll-out Khmer Enterprise’s partnership with strategic international players like 500 Startups, Stanford University, and Enterprise Singapore. This flagship program called “Angkor 500” aims to co-create a vibrant ecosystem that provides more confidence to various stakeholders, increases the quantity and quality of entrepreneurs in the long-term, and attracts more venture capital funding for SMEs and startups development. I would like to personally thank all the excellencies and Okhnas of the Board of Trustees along with the EDF staff for their commitment and hard work. What we contributed to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in 2020 was remarkable, and there is so much more work to be done going forward to help Cambodia achieve sustainable development,” said H.E. Vongsey Vissoth, EDF Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Minister attached to the Prime Minister, and Permanent Secretary of State of Ministry of Economy and Finance.

For more information, visit the website of EDF.

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