Till the late nineties bank loans were reserved for a minority because so many people had no land title which the banks ask as collateral. The situation has changed, most people now have the "red book", and most have deposited it at once at the bank for a loan!
In Cambodia bank credit is basically limited to the cities, but many institutions offer microcredit: ACLEDA, AMRET etc. They have become very large institutions and use methods which are not suitable for the very poor.
Small family enterprises often create many jobs but banks are not flexible enough for them.So we lend them at 12%/year.
In Dúc Linh hundreds of jobs have been created this way: processing of cashew nuts, textiles for export... The loans are bigger (450 €) so we require the commune to approve the loan which reduces the risks. Till today all loans have been reimbursed.
Microcredit is an important of the solution but it requires regular and various kinds of support. Because some households are in a desperate condition, afflicted by alcoholism and domestic violence, health problems and disabilities, technical gaps... just a loan will not have a positive impact and on the contrary it may lead to disaster. A specific program is needed.
Mekong Plus has had up to 1000 women's groups who held weekly meetings to deposit their savings, borrow and reimburse their credits. When bank loans became more accessible, many groups have stopped functioning.
In Dúc Linh (Bình Thuân), in several communes hundreds of groups have decided to continue, and every week they continue to meet to exchange experiences, to save together and share their group capital between them.