Spotlight on Angkor's ESG Programmes

Published on:
by KnowESG
KnowESG_Spotlight on Angkor-s ESG Programmes
Image courtesy of Angkor Resources

Angkor Resources Corp. is getting international attention for its work with Indigenous communities in Cambodia.

This follows Angkor's efforts to provide Financial Literacy (FinLit) training to help communities deal with debt burdens caused by aggressive microfinance institutions (MFIs).

In February 2024, a delegation from the European Union, CORD United Kingdom, and Cerise SPFT for Southeast Asia visited Banlung to see the FinLit programme firsthand. They also discussed other initiatives undertaken by Angkor, along with representatives from Development and Partnerships in Action (DPA).

Angkor launched the FinLit project in early 2022 after witnessing the negative impact of high-interest loans on rural communities. Partnering with Advanced Bank of Asia (ABA), owned by National Bank of Canada, Angkor offered financial literacy training to families at risk of losing their homes and land. Unsustainable debt had become a major issue, as many Cambodians struggled with unfair loan terms and a lack of financial education from MFIs.

Baseline surveys revealed the severity of the problem. In the first community surveyed (58 families), 90% reported:

  • Average household debt exceeding annual income

  • Total MFI debt exceeding $243,000 for 53 households (excluding informal debt) as of January 1st, 2022

  • Increased stress, mental health issues, and declining health

  • Reliance on multiple loans, often using one MFI to pay off another

  • A lack of understanding of loan terms and repayment obligations

While NGOs were already working on this issue, Angkor's involvement as a foreign investor, along with their collaboration with ABA, seemed to be a turning point. Angkor continues to partner with NGOs in this effort.

The FinLit programme, initially offered in three communities, has grown to encompass 46 training programmes across 41 villages, all conducted in the local languages. The programme's success has led to government and MFI reforms, and numerous other communities have requested the training as well.

Angkor's commitment to social responsibility goes beyond exploration and development. Their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) platform includes needs assessments with surrounding communities. This helps communities gain control of their livelihoods and manage their needs. Angkor also played a key role in establishing Cambodia's first national agreement between industry and indigenous communities, focusing on stakeholder benefits.

The top priorities identified by these communities include:

  • Improved education, particularly in English and computer skills

  • Enhanced healthcare access, including clean water and sanitation solutions

  • Economic development opportunities, including job training and skill development

  • Land title security and ownership

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Source: Angkor

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