CRS Sells Microfinance Company to Developing World Markets

Phnom Penh, February 23 —Catholic Relief Services announces the sale and transfer of its successful microfinance company, Thaneakea Phum (Cambodia) – TPC – to Developing World Markets (DWM). TPC currently serves over 91,400 rural and urban Cambodians, providing small loans that help them build and expand businesses. Thaneakea Phum means “Village Bank” in Khmer.

Like many of its successful clients, TPC had humble beginnings. Initially launched in 1995 as a microfinance project with funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the McKnight Foundation and CRS, TPC has distributed $112 million in loans to 710,886 people since its inception in 1995. “Our clients are women and men, in villages and in the city,” says Chuon Sophal, CEO of TPC. “But they have one thing in common: they are grateful that TPC’s low interest rates give them an alternative to moneylenders.”

From an initial client base of 356 in 1995, TPC had grown to 29,203 clients by the end of 2002. In order to better meet the growing demand for TPC’s services, CRS sought NBC regulatory approval from the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) to transform TPC into a registered, licensed microfinance company in late 2002. Since 2003, TPC has been a leading Cambodian MFI, successfully achieving a ‘double bottom line’ of positive social impact for the Cambodian poor while maintaining a rigorous business orientation.

TPC clients have used their loans, which typically begin at $125, to expand their farming activities or start businesses like bakeries or bicycle repair shops.

“TPC has grown so much that a sale and transfer to a major financial institution such as DWM was essential for its long-term success,” says CRS’ Rich Balmadier, who joined TPC’s board of directors in 2002 and was, until the sale of TPC, the Chairman of TPC’s Board. “DWM is well-positioned to take TPC to the next level, helping ever more Cambodians escape poverty, and expanding the range of financial services TPC can provide to poor Cambodians.”

On February 23, Catholic Relief Services will host a ceremony marking the transfer. Attendees from the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), the Ministry of Commerce (MOC), USAID, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, DWM and other Cambodian Microfinance Institutions are expected at a reception at the Sunway Hotel.

“We’re happy to be taking the lead at a time when TPC is so poised for growth,” says Fernanda Lima, DWM Vice President for Private Equity.

“This is really a celebration of a venture that worked, and continues to work,” says Greg Auberry, CRS’ Country Representative for Southeast Asia. “Tens of thousands of Cambodians have created better lives for their families thanks to TPC.”

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