RISE launches its first technical assistance assignment with Cambodia-based Natural Agriculture Village
Born out of a USAID-sponsored co-creation workshop in 2017, the Regional Investment Support for Entrepreneurs (RISE) Platform is a USAID-funded project implemented by Swisscontact. RISE aims to promote social, economic, and environmental impact in the ASEAN region by supporting social impact businesses and investors. RISE’s priority sectors include agriculture, digital solutions, energy, health, and water and sanitation.
This year in May RISE launched its first business development support (BDS) assignment for Cambodia based Natural Agriculture Village (NAV). With a woman-lead team that launched operations in 2015, NAV supplies safe-to-consume horticultural products under Good Agricultural Practice standards. To facilitate its supply, NAV has provided training for 200 of local farmers to produce safe crops, catalyzing the technique’s ability to provide healthy fruits and vegetables. NAV targets 500 of local farmers in accessing the training on safe horticultural products.
NAV is receiving BDS in its financial accounting and internal systems from the consultancy Fii & Associates that has extensive expertise on financial services, business and financing advisory and corporate finance solution through the RISE model. Instead of NAV needing to pay for the TA upfront, the RISE has provided Fii Associate’s services to NAV immediately, allowing NAV to repay the TA amount only after it successfully secures funding.
“We are currently working with Fii & Associates, a local consultancy that we met through RISE. Fii & Associates is helping us with financial accounting and internal control. Once we improve our internal system, we know that our company can grow more quickly. We really appreciate this opportunity created by RISE.” Ms. Bun Sieng, CEO of NAV.
RISE will start working with another social impact company in July, Khmer Water Supply Holdings (KWSH). KWSH manages and operates a portfolio of small-scale piped water networks that distribute clean drinking water directly to households in rural regions of Cambodia – these areas initially have a high number of unconnected households, low levels of water consumption, and poor operations. KWSH contracts and finances the building of these networks.
RISE was first introduced to KWSH through KWSH’s investor-partner, Insitor Partners, in March 2019 – KWSH seeks the technical assistance on a customer relationship management (CRM) system as the company is entering a phase of rapid growth and requires a new system backed by technology. This support can help KWSH to move forward to their next round of fundraising, as well as aid in the management and expansion of more regional water networks.
"As a hands-on investor, Insitor Partners worked closely with KWSH over the past year to identify and problem-solve for obstacles that may hinder scaling. The need for a more advanced CRM system emerged as crucial for KWSH to achieve its long-term objectives and grow in a sustainable manner. RISE has offered KWSH a repayable grant to fund the tech project so that they don't have to divert resources from pipeline expansion projects at this critical juncture. RISE's repayable grant is a great innovation in the TA delivery space.” Nicholas Lazos, Partner and Chief Investment Officer, Insitor.
"We've known that we needed a CRM system to grow our company, but we couldn't afford such high-cost support with our current cash flow. Also, our team isn't plugged into a network of consultants, so it was going to be hard to find the right expert. Through RISE we've found a way to finance this support plus access quality consultants." William Puyo, General Manager, KWSH.
Although the core team is based in Cambodia, RISE supports SMEs across the ASEAN region. Kennemer Foods International is one such company, introduced through RISE’s investor partner Alterfin. The company is a social enterprise working with smallholder farmers in the Philippines and has recently raised a round of funding. RISE is providing technical support to Kennemer in conducting a review of their corporate structure and operations in the Philippines. The support is expected to help Kennemer scale more effectively, helping it gain traction in global markets.
RISE plans to work with eight or more SMEs in 2019 and looks forward to continuing its work promoting impact investments in the ASEAN region. For more information about RISE or to discuss possible collaboration, please visit our website or contact Kevin Robbins at kevin.robbins@STOP-SPAM.swisscontact.org
Regional Investment Support for Entrepreneurs allows SMEs to access immediate pre-investment and post-investment business development support (BDS) and technical assistance (TA) through a consultant-SME matchmaking process and an enterprise repayment model. This repayment mechanism delays payment for TA service to a pre-determined time in the future when enterprises have improved their cash flow, which is a key feature as SMEs are often cash constrained during the times when they most need TA services.