First Business Resilience Forum in Cambodia engages small enterprises in disaster preparedness


A one-day Business Resilience forum was jointly organized by the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), the Federation of Associations for SMEs of Cambodia (FASMEC) and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) through its iPrepare Business facility. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the forum has been conceptualized as part of the multi-stakeholder partnership of Asian Preparedness Partnership (APP) through its country platform, the Preparedness Partnership of Cambodia (PPC) on 22 June 2018 in Phnom Penh.

The private sector focused forum, the first of its kind hosted in Cambodia, provided a platform for around 70 participants from the private sector as well as relevant key partners and stakeholders i.e. governments, civil society organizations and development partners to come together to explore an effective way of engaging the private sector in disaster preparedness and business resilience initiatives. In particular, the forum considered approaches for supporting SME resilience in Cambodia and beyond while discussing challenges and good practices on relevant topics related to Business Resilience.

Mr. Oknha Sok Dara, Vice-President of FASMEC giving the opening remarks.

The forum was opened by Mr. Oknha Sok Dara, Vice-President of FASMEC who noted that the forum is regarded as an important step for SMEs in Cambodia to better understand disaster concept and ensure business continuity. Furthermore, H.E. Nhik Bunrith, Deputy Secretary General delivered remarks on behalf of NCDM. He provided background information on the legislative arrangements in Cambodia with regards to disaster management as it allowed for private sector to take an active participation in more effective preparedness for disasters in the country.

Representatives from ADPC Ms. Shalini Kanwar and Mr. Sok Phoeuk briefed the participants on the Asian Preparedness Partnership (APP) and Preparedness Partnership of Cambodia (PPC) respectively. The PPC undertakes activities focused on three main areas aimed at enhancing disaster preparedness in the country, namely: capacity building, communication knowledge sharing and dissemination, coordination and partnership. 

H.E. Nhik Bunrith, Deputy Secretary General from NCDM briefing the participants on the legislative framework for disaster management in Cambodia.

The forum provided insights from private sector engagement for disasters in Cambodia and elsewhere in the region. Firstly, Mr. Sin Vibol from Campu Lonpac Insurance PLC delivered a presentation to inform participants about insurance and risk financing measures which are available in Cambodia. Next, Mr. Oliver Cam from Chamber of Commerce & Industry Tacloban-Leyte (PCCI-TL) provided experiences from the Philippines on Business Resilience Programs for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises including awareness, education campaign and advocacy campaigns, tools and references for business continuity planning as well as challenges and lessons learned. Ms. Mio Kato from the iPrepare Business facility of ADPC also delivered a presentation on the ‘’Business Case for Disaster Resilience’’ which provided an introduction to the concept of Business Resilience and business continuity.  

Mr. Chhea Layhy, Deputy Director of SMEs Department, Ministry of Industry and Handicraft, provided perspectives from government on entry points for private sector engagement in disaster preparedness in Cambodia. He provided an overview and definition of SMEs in the Cambodian context as well as existing policies for SME development in the country. Recognizing the challenges facing SMEs in regards to disasters, he welcomed partnership between his department and other agencies and stakeholders working on disaster preparedness in the country.   

Participants undertaking the business resilience assessment exercise.

Participants of the forum were also encouraged to think about the current resilience of their organization by undertaking a brief assessment questionnaire. Responses from the respondent enterprises indicated that business ownerships recognize the threat of disasters to their business operations and have put in place some measures to mitigate disruption. Nonetheless, the majority of enterprises did not possess formal written Business Continuity plans or insurance coverage of their assets. A significant majority of respondents indicated a willingness to receive more support on enhancing the disaster resilience of their organization including on Business Continuity and emergency response planning.         

A final interactive session where participants discussed action points for private sector and SME resilience in Cambodia helped summarize the key points raised at the forum and identify potential activities for the PPC to undertake going forward.