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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                2  August 2011

Microfinance aids Cambodian agriculture

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Cambodia's growing agricultural sector is relying more on loans and deposits at microfinance institutions.

The small-scale lenders also credit the boost in Cambodia's agro-industry for declining non-performing loans rates.

"We see that political stability and our economy are offering a strong climate for opening businesses or enlarging the businesses, leading to more demand for loans," said Sathapana Microfinance Chief Executive Officer Bun Mony. "We don't have any major challenges, as our performance has improved after being hard hit by the crisis."

The MFI's lending totaled US$51 million to 4,900 borrowers at the end of June, whiles its NPL rate declined to 0.7 percent from 0.9 percent at the end of December 2010.

The firm's deposits had also increased to about $10 million by the end of June. Sathapana was the first MFI to receive a deposit license from the National Bank of Cambodia in 2009.

MFIs contribute significantly to the country's macroeconomic stability, particularly by increasing rural income via lending, said Cambodian Economic Association President Chan Sophal.

"It is quite necessary for our people to have access to more funds via MFIs while our economy is growing," he said.

NPL rates had dropped over the past several years, leaving the industry in a much better situation, he said.

However, he added the industry needs to improve its human resources in order to develop further.


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