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CAMBODIA'S LARGEST MICROFINANCE ORGANIZATION ACLEDA BANK OPENS IN PHNOM PENH


L. Joseph
Phone: (202) 473-7700
Fax: (202) 974-4384
E-mail: ljoseph@ifc.org


PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA, October 6, 2000 -- The long process of converting from an aid-based support organization to a full-fledged bank to finance small businesses across Cambodia will be complete with the opening on Saturday October, 7 of ACLEDA Bank. ACLEDA Bank received a banking license from the National Bank of Cambodia, providing its new commercial bank status.
ACLEDA (Association of Cambodian Economic Development Agencies) was established in 1993 as a non-profit non-governmental organization to provide financing to small businesses and would-be entrepreneurs, especially in rural areas. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development and other international donors, it grew quickly into a thriving microfinance institution with more than 40 branches across Cambodia and assets of over US$13 million.
With the advice and financial assistance of a special program of the International Finance Corporation (through the Mekong Project Development Facility) and the United Nations Development Program, ACLEDA began in 1996 to convert into a fully licensed commercial bank that could be self-sustaining without the need for donor assistance.
ACLEDA's 60,000 clients include basket weaving operations and lotus farmers, noodle-makers and steelworks, many in rural areas and 90 percent of which are owned by women. As a commercial bank, it will expand even further and extend new financial services to micro-enterprises and small businesses that will contribute to a growing economy in Cambodia.
ACLEDA completed the first steps in its transformation by upgrading its accounting policies and practices to international standards and undertaking an internal restructuring to organize in line with international commercial banks. A new management information system as well as a comprehensive staff development program were put in place. Trust funds from the government of Japan were used to finance advisory services of an experienced commercial banker during the bank's start-up period.
ACLEDA Bank received $2 million in capital injection from a consortium of international investors including IFC, FMO (Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij Voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V.), Triodos Bank of the Netherlands, and DEG of Germany (Deutsche Investitions-und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH).
Mr. Javed Hamid, IFC's Director for East Asia and Pacific paid tribute to a dedicated team of managers working in close partnership with investors in order to structure the new bank. ACLEDA Bank's continued success would be founded on its strong relationship with its clientele, coupled with the growing demand for diverse financial services. He added that ACLEDA's transformation into a commercial bank demonstrates that good banking can go hand in hand with meeting the financial needs of rural entrepreneurs in the most challenging environments.
The mission of IFC, part of the World Bank Group, is to promote private sector investment in developing countries, which will reduce poverty and improve people's lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.