Infrastructure drives SME growth

Infrastructure drives SME growth

The capital city’s infrastructure upgrades, like the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port, new airport, highways, will prove of great advantage to SME clusters of WorldBridge, said Allen Dodgson Tan, Chief Strategy Officer, WorldBridge.

He said this at a meeting with diplomats from various countries at the WorldBridge i4.0 SME Cluster zone in Kandal province, hosted by WorldBridge Industrial Developments Co Ltd. Present at the event were Japan’s Ambassador to Cambodia, Ueno Atsushi, the Indian Ambassador, Dr Devyani Khobragade, Lauti Nia Astri, Minister Counselor, Indonesian Embassy and David Verbiwski, Charge d’Affaires, Canadian Embassy.

WorldBridge Group Founding Chairman Sear Rithy was also present at the event and said that this project was designed to help SMEs grow and scale with effective business processes, facilities and guidance. The project is located along National Road 21 in Rokar Khpos commune’s Koh Kor village in Takhmao town, the provincial capital.

SMEs face many problems in Cambodia and WorldBridge i4.0 SME Cluster hopes to help them with upfront capex investment for their infrastructure. “Cambodian SMEs face issues like limited access to capital, inability to scale, having to navigate complex regulations and face competition from larger, more aggressive markets like Thailand and Vietnam,” said Tan.

The WorldBridge team said that the WorldBridge i4.0 SME Cluster would help SMEs scale up. They could start with a factory floor, then expand and have an open dockyard, a logistics hub, more buildings, and a showroom. “We’re also looking at providing the capex when our SMEs want to set up an additional building,” said Tan. Each basic unit will be octagonal module – that provides 566sqm of factory floor, 288sqm of multi-level office space, 162sqm of open yard and 81sqm of loading dock. But as the SME grows, it can choose to put up new buildings with the help of WorldBridge and expand its offices and production line.

The project also has a building that can be used as a common space by all – to hold events and have other facilities. From coffee rooms, gym to childcare centres to testing laboratories and collaborative spaces for training staff, the WorldBridge team said that it was hoping to give SMEs world class facilities. “We’re also ensuring that be it insurance or safety systems – we have it all in place. Even when it comes to loans – SMEs partnering with us will have access to loans ranging from $250,000- $1 million from BridgeBank at competitive rates,” said Tan.

Quite close to the WorldBridge project is an affordable housing project – “Satellite Serei Mongkul City,” developed by WorldBridge Homes Co Ltd, a unit of WorldBridge Group. The WorldBridge i4.0 SME Cluster will also have cold storage and logistics support from Kerry Worldbridge. The range of support services WorldBridge hopes to offer SMEs are domestic transport, import-export clearance, on-site customs, cold storage packaging, compliance services, business linkages facilitation, technology transfer, and access to finance.

“We are currently exporting outside the country via the Sihanoukville port. But we might switch to the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port, if we find it more feasible in future,” said Nicholas Spencer, CEO, IBIS Rice. “We chose to be part of the SME cluster because some of our equipment needs uninterrupted power supply,” he added.

Like IBIS Rice, WorldBridge i4.0 SME Cluster would be looking at other SMEs that complement each other, said Tan. The WorldBridge SME Cluster project, spread across 23 hectares, will allow SMEs to save 35-70 percent in operating costs by tapping into a pooled resource from logistics to digital platforms. The site can host agro-processing facilities, waste recycling and eco-friendly packaging and offer full incubation to production services. To ensure green energy goals are met, the SME cluster will provide units with reliable clean energy and wastewater treatment systems. (khmertimeskh)

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