Coastal SMEs Eligible to Apply for $2m Fund

Young entrepreneurs living on Cambodia’s coast are slated to receive a financial boost, thanks to a $2 million pot of funding aimed at delivering training, creating employment and improving livelihoods.
A vendor walks on a beach in Preah Sihanouk province. Kiripost/Iea Sonita
A vendor walks on a beach in Preah Sihanouk province. Kiripost/Iea Sonita

KOH KONG PROVINCE, A total of $2 million in funding is being pumped into helping support young entrepreneurs in four of Cambodia’s coastal provinces to create jobs and improve the living conditions of those affected by climate change and Covid-19.

Vorn Samphors, country director of French NGO Action Education, which holds the European Union funds, said on Thursday that the $2million funds will be dished out in programs for 10 districts in the coastal provinces of Kep, Preah Sihanouk, Koh Kong and Kampot. They form a part of $8 million funds, mostly from the EU, to support schools, poor families, startups and entrepreneurs.

“Our program supports children, their parents and families, and we support startups, entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs),” Samphors said in Koh Kong.

“What we want to see is that the whole community gets development in every sector, has solutions, and that authorities and civil society groups work together to create living opportunities and achieve development goals,” he said in an interview in Koh Kong, where Action Education distributed 145 bicycles to children.

Vorn Samphors, country director of French NGO Action Education. Kiripost/Penh Chamroeun
Vorn Samphors, country director of French NGO Action Education. Kiripost/Penh Chamroeun

The announcement about the funds under the Consortium for Sustainable Alternatives and Voice of Equitable Development (Co-Saved) will be made during a ceremony on Friday in Preah Sihanouk province. The event will also see the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Cambodia (YEAC) launch a chapter in the area.

The project has already been ongoing for 12 months in part to help children in 254 schools across the four coastal areas. It provides support in education and training for students in kindergartens, and primary and secondary schools. In addition, it provides those who are not in school due to financial limitations with incentives to help them return to education.

Funds to help startups and entrepreneurs are already ongoing in the clean water, agricultural and fishing sectors, working with another organization called Heifer.

Action Education, which was earlier known as Aide et Action Cambodia, signed an agreement to help YEAC launch a training and speeding-up program for businesses. In return, the organization pledged to act as job creators and support the ecosystem by helping communities, children and businesses.

As part of a later phase, a project will launch to support ecotourism in cooperation with various ecotourism associations.

Samphors said the funds aim to help businesses. This in return helps create jobs and provide solutions to people, the environment, and tourism. After training, participants can pitch to for investment funds.

“We focus on poor communities facing the most hardships as affected by climate change, Covid and other factors, such as the Ukraine war,” Samphors said.

He said fishing communities on the Tonle Sap Lake and coastal areas are vulnerable to impact. Projects vary, and currently 100 projects include funds of between $1,000 and $9,000 for farmers, fish farmers and villagers as selected by the organization's team.

“To create jobs, we support entrepreneurs or some startups,” he added. “We have around 80 projects where they have to come and learn, and receive funds of between $3,000 and $30,000.”

The YEAC project sees the organization work with SMEs by delivering training sessions. Attendees can then pitch for funds of between $10,000 and $60,000.