3 Companies that Made a Difference in Cambodia during the Pandemic

It won’t be long until the COVID-19 pandemic is a thing of the past in Cambodia – Cambodian companies have done their part to help.

As of the end of July, more than 26% of Cambodians have received a single dose of a vaccine, according to data collected by Our World In Data. That puts it ahead of other bigger or richer countries like Brazil, India, Japan, Colombia, Saudi Arabia or Australia.

It’s only behind Singapore in Southeast Asia and many in Cambodia are hoping life could return to normal as early as the end of the year.

A number of factors have been responsible for the country’s remarkable fightback. At the same time, the delta variant has punctured confidence in Southeast Asia as COVID-19 cases continue to be on the rise.

Across the world, good companies have shown how they are ready to do their part in various ways. This might involve charity but it can also involve other ways like how they adapt their products, services, and commercial relationships to support stakeholders.

Here are three Cambodian companies that have done their part to make a difference to Cambodia:

Chen Zhi, Prince Group

Prince Holding Group is one of Cambodia’s largest conglomerates and it’s led by chairman Neak Oknha Chen Zhi. In March, he contributed USD $3 million in donation to the government to help with anti-pandemic efforts following what’s known locally as the “February 20 incident”.

Two months later, Prince Foundation, the charity arm of the Group, donated 100,000 pieces of personal protective equipment to the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training. The Group also contributed $900,000 to the Cambodian Red Cross.

Last year, Chen Zhi Prince Group also donated $3 million to help Cambodia purchase 1 million vaccines. Prince Real Estate, one of the member companies of the Group of companies led by Chen Zhi, has helped districts under a strict lockdown and made donations to a variety of philanthropic endeavours.

The Group has been working hard to safeguard thousands of employees as well with not a single employee suffering from a COVID-19 infection so far. Prince Holding Group has won a Silver Award at the eighth annual Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards for its anti-COVID-19 efforts becoming the only company from Cambodia recognized this year.

Manu Rajan, Wing Group

Wing, operator of Cambodia’s leading mobile banking service provider, has raised funds for Cambodians both home and abroad for more than a year.

It has collected donations from more than 7,500 Wing Cash Xpress agents across the Kingdom and via its digital platforms.

It has also carried out targeted campaigns to raise funds to support tuk-tuk drivers and tour guides and the Angkor Hospital for Children, a Siem Reap-based non-profit hospital which provides treatment to young patients for free.

Last year, it made a donation of $5,000 to Cambodians living, working and studying in South Korea through the Cambodian Embassy to buy masks and sanitizers, to protect them from Covid-19.

As Wing Cash Xpress agents are situated in remote areas, they have come to the aid of Cambodians in distant provinces by helping them procure food and other daily needs responding to a call to action initiated by the head office in Phnom Penh. It has also worked with the ministry of labor and to distribute the Social Protection Fund helping the poorest Cambodians get access to much-needed cash in the immediate aftermath of the onset of the pandemic.

As a result, Wing received “Cambodia’s Best Employer Brand Award 2020” at the 14th Employer Branding Awards hosted by the Employer Branding Institute. Manu Rajan, CEO of Wing Group, had only been promoted to the top position at the firm in December 2020.

VF Foundation

The VF Foundation, the philanthropic arm of VF Corporation in the United States, came to the aid of garment workers by contributing to grants worth $320,000 in Cambodia and India. It worked with CARE Cambodia, an international development organisation focusing on empowering marginalised and vulnerable women in Cambodia, more than 9,000 individual hygiene kits that included soap, face masks, sanitary pads, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and handkerchiefs early on in the pandemic.

The VF Corporation is the apparel manufacturer behind leading brands like Wrangler, JanSport, The North Face, Vans, Timberland, Lee, Eastpak and Altra.

Many other business leaders have also contributed in different capacities like Galaxy Navatra Group chairman Leng Navatra, Royal Group chairman Kith Meng, Chip Mong Group chairman Leang Khun and Borey Piphup Thmey chairman Hong Piv, Prudential Cambodia, AEON Group of Companies, DKSH Cambodia, NagaCorp, TechStars, Coca-Cola Cambodia, Digital Divide Data and more.

Many corporate leaders have also re-looked at their operations to ensure they can make a difference to the local economy – some have made investments despite the pandemic looking to make a difference to local employment.

Companies can make a difference by making supply chains more local bringing manufacturing closer to home, protecting their people (going beyond just looking after their health by implementing strong safety nets in the form of pension plans) and ensuring a green recovery (the pandemic has highlighted how interconnected the world is and how it’s every individual and company’s responsibility to safeguard the environment).

Around the world, companies have offered financial, medical and other forms of support even if they were not always known for their largesse.

For example, LVMH, the luxury conglomerate that owns brands like Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, adapted some of its cosmetics manufacturing facilities to produce hand sanitisers for French hospitals. Clothes retailer Zara used its factories to make masks and hospital gowns while cosmetics firm Nivea turned to medical-grade disinfectants.

It will be a long road to recovery for Cambodia and for the rest of the world. COVID-19 has clearly made an impact on Cambodia’s economy and it will take time for the most affected sectors to return to normal.

In this difficult time, Cambodian companies can clearly do a lot more if they want to help residents move on from a difficult year.

These three examples are just a start in how socially responsible corporates can make a difference so that the burden is not just on non-governmental organizations and the government

Any company that lives up to its corporate social responsibility will build trust, raise awareness, encourage social change and become popular.

Let’s hope there can be many more companies that do their part as the world slowly recovers from a (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime crisis.