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Forum discusses inclusive biz, achieving UN SDGs

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A woman makes street snack banh cheo. The First Inclusive Forum for Cambodia was held in Phnom Penh on Wednesday to discuss inclusive business. UNESCAP

Forum discusses inclusive biz, achieving UN SDGs

The Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts, with the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Unescap) and the Inclusive Business Action Network (iBAN), held the First Inclusive Forum for Cambodia in Phnom Penh on Wednesday.

High-level government officials and executive managers from inclusive businesses, intermediary and international organisations and other public and private stakeholders attended the forum.

Discussions at the forum were intended to form the preliminary results of a joint landscape study by Unescap and iBAN on inclusive business recently conducted in the Kingdom.

“Inclusive business is the deliberate approach of the private sector to promote – through a commercial business approach – the poverty reduction and social agenda of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs].

“Inclusive business makes growth in Cambodia more inclusive, dynamic, and it is instrumental for structural transformation to become an upper middle-income country,” said Heng Sok Kung, secretary of state at the Ministry of Industry.

The landscape study, which is expected to be published at the end of this year, includes an analysis of companies with inclusive business models in Cambodia and the environment in which firms operate.

The study found that Cambodia has around 20 real and potential inclusive businesses, mostly in agribusiness, insurance, microfinance and energy services – some of them with highly innovative models.

It also estimates that with an enabling environment for inclusive business models, firms in Cambodia could generate some 100,000 new income-generation activities in the next three years, serve around 70,000 low-income households through housing and municipal services and provide insurance to 600,000 low-income individuals.

Based on the study and discussions with key stakeholders, an Inclusive Business Enabling Environment for Cambodia strategy was also proposed and presented at the forum, it said.

The strategy includes the establishment of a technical assistance facility to provide, among other things, coaching for firms to develop inclusive business models.

It also proposes the creation of an accreditation system for inclusive business, a risk reduction fund to facilitate impact investment in inclusive business and a steering committee.

The proposed strategy has been accepted by the ministry, which will submit it for endorsement by the Supreme National Economic Council before the end of this year.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) members adopted the Asean Inclusive Business Framework in 2017.

Cambodia is the third Asean country to develop a comprehensive strategic framework for promoting inclusive business.

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