Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are key to the economies of various countries. Their numbers and contribution towards employment is well documented and there is acceptance amongst policy makers that these enterprises are critical for economic development. Increasingly, access to finance has been recognised as a major hurdle in their development or growth.
Amongst, the countries reviewed in this paper - Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Nepal ？ Bhutan is the only target country where the supply of finance to MSMEs is favourable with nearly 68% of the demand being met. Cambodia has the highest finance gap followed closely by Lao Peoples Democratic Republic and Nepal. While examining the finance gap of microenterprises and SMEs, the gap revealed in Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Nepal are not substantial. However, in Bangladesh the differences are much larger between microenterprises and SMEs with only 14% of microenterprise demand being met.
The review also explores the number of women owned MSMEs (WMSMEs) in the countries and the access to finance for such enterprises. It shows that the finance gap is amongst the lowest in Bangladesh (6%), Bhutan (19%) and Nepal (9%). In Cambodia and Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the share is higher at 32% and 42% respectively. But in both South East Asian countries women owned MSMEs also are a larger proportion of MSMEs.