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Lack of collateral is the main challenge for businesses in Cambodia to get loans. The Royal Government of Cambodia established the Credit Guarantee Corporation of Cambodia (CGCC) to address this challenge. With credit guarantees, borrowing without collateral is no longer impossible. For CGCC to yield the benefits requires a good understanding from relevant stakeholders about how it works.
Simply put, CGCC provides credit guarantees to share the credit risk with the banks on loans made to businesses. In other words, the banks can claim from CGCC if the guaranteed loan defaults. There are two main types of credit guarantee – individual guarantee whereby the guarantee covers individual loans and portfolio guarantee whereby the guarantee covers a portfolio consisting of multiple loans. Since CGCC itself is not a lending institution, it currently collaborates with banks and micro-finance institutions (MFIs) that are the participating financial institutions (PFIs) to provide guaranteed loans to businesses. As a government-backed institution with adequate capital in its account, CGCC is set to provide a wide range of guarantees on loans disbursed to Cambodian-owned businesses across the country.
Why should the lender need the credit guarantee?
When lending, banks normally protect themselves by requiring collateral from the borrowers. When the borrower cannot repay the loan, the banks liquidate the collaterals to cover the loss. If the required collateral is not sufficient, the bank is unlikely to lend. The collateral requirement becomes more stringent, especially during times of uncertainty such as the COVID-19 Pandemic, because businesses are perceived to be riskier, and banks become more risk-averse. Now with CGCC, the banks can protect themselves with the credit guarantee instead of the collaterals. Currently, CGCC provides credit guarantees up to 80% of the outstanding loan principal which means that the bank bears the remaining 20% of the loss if the loan defaults. The credit guarantee empowers banks to remain competitive in the market and to lend out more to underserved borrowers who lack collaterals, what is referred to as “credit additionality.”
Why should the borrower need the credit guarantee?
Credit guarantees increase the borrowing capacity. CGCC provides guarantees that act as collateral on the borrower’s behalf. Needless to say, CGCC cannot be beneficial for every business. By all means, if the business has sufficient collateral and the ability to repay the loan, the chance is that such a business does not need a credit guarantee, and the bank would also be happy to lend even without CGCC’s guarantee. However, it is common that a potential business with the ability to repay the loan is unable to borrow because of insufficient collateral. Businesses simply cannot pledge the collateral on every loan they wish to borrow. The collateral is limited. This is a huge loss to the business and the economy as a whole. With the required loan, the business could have generated more income, employed more workers, and produced goods or services that contribute to the economic growth of the country. When CGCC provides guarantees to the banks, the borrowers now have easier access to loans from the banks because the banks are willing to lend more with less collateral requirement.
Credit guarantees are used by many countries as a policy tool to improve access to finance and financial inclusion. However, never before has a credit guarantee corporation been incorporated in Cambodia. According to the World Bank, “Public credit guarantee schemes (CGSs) are a common form of government intervention to unlock finance for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). More than half of all countries in the world have a CGS for SMEs and the number is growing.” While many credit guarantee schemes have proved successful in supporting the SMEs, many have also failed.
It is still early to assess how far and how fast CGCC can support the businesses. CGCC must continue to strengthen credibility, efficiency, and transparency and adhere to the best practices including the World Bank’s principles for public credit guarantee schemes for SMEs to gain trust and support from all relevant stakeholders. What is also important at this stage is that all the players understand and start to utilize the credit guarantees for the right purposes.