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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Japan's 1st microfinance fund to be set up to assist loans in Cambodia

A Japanese music production and fund management company plans to create a microfinance investment fund worth up to 50 million yen, the first of its kind in Japan, to support farmers and businesses in Cambodia, company officials said Saturday.

Music Securities Inc., based in Tokyo, will start accepting money for the fund from individual investors mainly via the Internet by the end of this month, the officials said. Investments will be made in increments of 30,000 yen.

The fund will then invest in Cambodia's CHC Ltd., a Phnom Penh-based microfinance institution, which will extend loans to domestic farmers and businesses, the officials said. CHC will rename itself SAMIC in November.

The new fund was initially organized by Living In Peace, a nonprofit organization established in 2007 to help promote international development assistance, and the NPO asked Music Securities to manage the fund because an NPO is not allowed to deal with financial products.

Such a fund ''is not a donation but an investment. We want investors to maintain an interest in how their investments will be used for poverty eradication,'' said Akiko Sugiyama, an official at Music Securities' securitization division.

Investors in the fund will receive returns after three years, the officials said.

If the earnings performance of CHC remains at the current level over the next three years, the new fund will have an annual return of 2.8 percent before tax, the officials said. But investments could fall below initial value depending on CHC's performance and foreign exchange rate fluctuations, they said.

Microfinance is the brainchild of Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus, who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to eradicate poverty with the lending method. Many borrowers use their loans to start up small businesses, find ways to secure sources of income and escape poverty.
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Cambodia to recall some troops at border: PM

PHNOM PENH, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Saturday that there was no fighting at border and he will recall some troops to help the farmers to planting crops after some areas had been hit by drought.

"We are monitoring to withdraw the troops from the frontiers and we need soldiers to help the local farmers during this time," the premier said at the opening ceremony of irrigation in Pursat province, southeastern part of Phnom Penh, citing that Thailand now has 30 soldiers at the border.

"But in case we have problem at the border, we can mobilize our troops so quickly to border area," he said, adding that "we are moving back our troops of Kompong Thom and Siem Reap provinces to their headquarters from the border."

"I hope there is no fight each other again there," he stresses. Cambodian and Thai troops have confronted at areas near the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple since July, 2008 when the UNESCO listed the temple as the World Heritage Site of Cambodia.

Moreover, Hun Sen said that "in modern age, we need to discuss the matters with each other and we do not want to see any people shed their blood."

Troops tension at border is becoming ease and both side plan to measure the areas soon to plant border markers.
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