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Accelerate Women’s Entrepreneurship and Access to Capital in Cambodia: Lessons and Recommendations

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By Rodrigo Balbontín

This document presents lessons and recommendations from Accelerate Women’s Entrepreneurship and Access to Capital in Cambodia, an initiative funded by the VISA Foundation and implemented by The Asia Foundation. By providing training courses to large numbers of entrepreneurs in Cambodia, this program aimed to provide participants with digital skills and greater financial literacy to grow their businesses. The results show that the initiative positively improved specific managerial practices of women entrepreneurs. Such practices included separating their personal/domestic financial affairs from those of their businesses, increasing social media usage to expand their market, and adopting bookkeeping as a regular practice.

The implementation of this project also revealed that the growth of micro and small businesses is particularly intertwined with social context and dynamics. Many women entrepreneurs have not registered their businesses, which poses difficulty in accessing social networks, the formal financial system, and the potential benefits of business-friendly public policies such as tax incentives, loans, or training. Additionally, not all entrepreneurs see their businesses as a primary long-term source of income.

Despite offering a curriculum suitable to the needs of micro and small businesses, the majority of women entrepreneurs who did not complete the program did so because they did not have time to attend the training sessions.

Finally, a lack of confidence and trust undermines growth opportunities. A significant subset of women entrepreneurs distrusts the formal banking and financial system, reinforcing the prevalence of informal loans. Similarly, this lack of trust also affects the adoption of e-commerce tools.

Posted March 28, 2023
Related locations: Cambodia
Related programs: Inclusive Economic Growth, Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality
Related topics: Increasing Women's Economic Opportunities