Cambodia Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) commends SEARCA's Technical Assistance
Seated from Right to Left: Dr. Jaime Aristotle B. Alip, Founding President and Managing Director of the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI), Dr. Maria Celeste H. Cadiz, SEARCA Program Head for Knowledge Management, H. E. Hab Omaly, MRD Undersecretary of State, Dr. Pheak Sothea, Director of the MRD - Department of Rural Economic Development, and Dr. Lope B. Santos III, SEARCA Program Specialist and OIC for Project Development and Management. Mr. Camilo Casals (standing, fourth from right) is an Adviser for Business and Organizational Development.
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – SEARCA provided technical assistance to craft the Rural Entrepreneurship Development Program (REDP) of the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) in Cambodia. The stakeholder consultation workshop was conducted at the Hotel Cambodiana, Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 20 to 21 November 2013, with 22 participants from MRD, non-government organizations (NGO), and related stakeholders in Cambodia.
In his welcome remarks, Dr. Pheak Sothea, Director of the MRD - Department of Rural Economic Development and SEARCA alumnus (2009), mentioned that the stakeholder consultation workshop is the first ever initiative of its kind that is conducted by MRD. Dr. Sothea is hopeful that, with SEARCA's technical assistance, the consultation workshop would bring a promising future for rural micro and small entrepreneurs (MSMEs) in Cambodia.
Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr., SEARCA Director, in his opening remarks delivered by Dr. Maria Celeste H. Cadiz, SEARCA Program Head for Knowledge Management, shared how this initiative led by Cambodia's MRD aligns with SEARCA's thrusts. He said that the Center has just crafted its Tenth Five-Year Plan that will be launched next July, where SEARCA will champion inclusive and sustainable agriculture and rural development (ISARD). One of the thematic areas of the Plan is promoting rural entrepreneurship towards off-farm and non-farm businesses. Hence, this rural entrepreneurship development program may provide a momentum for SEARCA to promote ISARD in Cambodia and in the rest of Southeast Asia.
In his keynote address, H. E. Hab Omaly, MRD Undersecretary of State, expressed his profound gratitude to SEARCA for providing MRD the technical assistance in crafting the REDP. According to H.E. Hab Omaly, MRD, as one of the priority ministries in Cambodia, is envisioned to largely contribute to rural productivity through rural micro and small enterprises. He said that the development of REDP will bring an enabling environment for entrepreneurship that would later on translate to the reduction of poverty and sustainable economic development for Cambodia.
During the first day of the stakeholder consultation workshop, Mr. Hoeung Choutheang, Chief of the MRD Small Enterprise Office, discussed the policies, regulations, and institutional mechanisms, as well as the current programs on rural entrepreneurship in Cambodia. Mr. Kiev Vithyea, Vice Chief for Credit of the Rural Development Bank (RDB) of Cambodia, shared the initiatives of RDB in terms of rural entrepreneurship and microfinance. Dr. Jaime Aristotle B. Alip, Founding President and Managing Director of the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI), provided his extensive experience and expertise in enterprise development and microfinance in Southeast Asia. Mr. Camilo Casals led the participatory planning workshop on promoting the start-up, improvement, and expansion of Rural MSMEs.