In Research


Year: 2015
Published in: ICSEM Project
Cited as: Cambodia Lyne, I., Khieng, S. & Ngin, C. (2015) “Social Enterprise in Cambodia: An Overview”, No. 05.


This paper sets out historic and cultural factors that impact on incentives for autonomous economic activity, propensity for collaboration and perceptions of “equity” and “social need” that all impact on how and why social enterprises emerge in Cambodia. It sets out differentiated notions of SE and identifies the acute need for capacity building in the policy sphere where so far only microfinance and agricultural cooperatives have been supported by legislation from the Royal Government of Cambodia. We find that the EMES criteria for an economic project need to be approached flexibly in the Cambodian context. Critical issues in Cambodia are the density of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which are where the overwhelming majority of social enterprises are coming from, and changes to the international aid arrangements in Cambodia. Key variables that distinguish SEs in Cambodia include whether they are actually registered as businesses and their governance. The main institutions at large are international foundations like Skoll and Schwab and also some emerging platforms inside Cambodia which impact on the aspirations and profiles of indigenous Cambodian social entrepreneurs. This being said, agricultural cooperatives are a separate highly prominent variant shaped by other international development actors and Government decrees. This paper also resonates with work on the typology of social enterprises in the East Asian region, bringing it more closely into contact with a different set of realities in Southeast Asia. The paper has been formulated through engagement with social enterprises in Cambodia since 2009, starting with a British Council funded academic project and since then through qualitative and quantitative research as part of 2 PhD theses (one still in the process of writing up).