The Enterprise Challenge Fund brought together representatives from the Cambodian national government, donor agencies and private sector companies earlier this month in Phnom Penh to share lessons learned. The program provides jobs, improved incomes and greater access to vital goods and services. During the past six years seven businesses across the Pacific and South-East Asia have benefited from support from the Fund.

AusAID funding of AUD $3.63 million has increased employment opportunities and economic development prospects for more than 78,000 people living in rural areas throughout the region.

Four businesses in Cambodia successfully won Fund support, gaining access to AUD $2.7 million.  The competitive grant fund pilot program provided businesses with grants worth between AUD $100,000 and AUD $1.5 million to companies that could prove they have an innovative solution to address market failures and stimulate long-term economic growth.

The Phnom Penh workshop was officially opened by His Excellency Mr Paul Keogh, AusAID counsellor. 

“Sustainable development and poverty reduction in Cambodia cannot be achieved in the absence of sustained economic growth led by a vigorous private sector. Through our development cooperation program, the Australian Government is partnering with the private sector to improve the living standards of thousands of rural Cambodians,” Mr Keogh said.

WING  is just one example of a Cambodian business that has thrived with support from the Fund. WING is a provider of mobile phone payment services. The company allows customers in Cambodia, who previously had little or no access to financial services, to use their mobile phones to transfer, store and cash-out their money.  

WING was awarded an ECF grant of AUD $1.5 million to support the outreach to rural areas.  Since 2008, WING has revolutionized access to affordable and secure payments for small businesses who play a very important role in the economic development of a country.

Over the past six years, the Enterprise Challenge Fund has provided more than AUD $11 million for 21 projects operating in 7 countries across the Asia Pacific.  The Fund is managed by Coffey on behalf of AusAID.