New partnership offers better access to financial services for Cambodia’s women entrepreneurs

June 25, 2021

Pact is teaming up with Wing Bank and Boost Capital, two digital financial services companies, to provide affordable financial services and products to underserved young women entrepreneurs (YWE) and increase their access to finance. On June 15, Pact, Boost and WING, launched the products, in the presence of U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia W. Patrick Murphy. The initiative provides better access to finance to YWEs with micro- and small-scale businesses that often do not meet eligibility criteria set by formal financial service providers and who have been adversely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ambassador Murphy stressed the importance of female entrepreneurs to Cambodia's economic recovery. “Ensuring they have all the resources they need to succeed will benefit all Cambodians by encouraging the economic growth needed to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.”

The initiative is part of WE Act, a five-year project funded by USAID and led by Pact that supports young women in Cambodia's urban centers to realize their path toward empowerment and success as entrepreneurs and leaders in their communities. The initiative offers preferential terms on productive loans to more than 350 YWEs and provides them with ongoing financial literacy resources to enable them to manage their businesses. With Boost and Wing, Pact anticipates unlocking up to $630,000 of productive use loans.

Pact selected Boost and Wing as financial services partners to implement this pilot given their expertise and interest to advance access to finance for underserved groups and their ability to offer affordable and competitive products through highly accessible, digital models. Both offer a unique loan-product catering to YWE who have unregistered businesses and/or do not have collateral while still offering a highly competitive interest rate.

WE Act Chief of Party Sabine Joukes said, “We’re so pleased that two very different private-sector partners co-designed products to benefit women entrepreneurs with WE Act.”

Boost offers a fully digital onboarding and underwriting process that brings efficiency and cost savings to the lending process and ultimately to the borrower. Wing operates a hybrid model, offering loans through its vast agent network and repayment through its digital platform, providing greater expediency and access for customers.

Wing Deputy CEO Hor Bunthe said, “Through this partnership, we will be able to offer financial assistance to women entrepreneurs across Cambodia who would otherwise be neglected, helping them to focus on growing and improving their business despite the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Boost co-founder and CEO Lucinda Revell emphasized how digital models can help women overcome access barriers. “These hard-working female entrepreneurs want to access financing to grow their businesses. Applying for a loan from anywhere and at any time with our technology makes it easy and convenient for them to get a loan from an MFI [microfinance institution] they can trust to support their business needs.”

The anticipated impact goes beyond the number of YWEs reached in this initiative as it will help demonstrate the value of new models for financial service providers to ensure ongoing, affordable access for YWE.

Read more in this piece by the Phnom Penh Post.