Can We Trust the Cambodia Microfinance Association?

In a recent interview with the Khmer Times, Sunniya Durrani-Jamal, the Asian Development Bank’s country director for Cambodia, noted that ever-growing household debt was approaching worrying levels. But she noted that the Cambodia Microfinance Association (CMA) has stated that “the sector is relatively under control and that the registered lenders have very ethical lending practices.”

Should the ADB be basing its assessments on the opinions of the CMA, an industry body whose 100-or-so members are microfinance lenders and whose board is composed of the CEOs of the country’s largest microfinance institutions? (Durrani-Jamal didn’t reply to my entreaties for an answer to this question.)

Ample media reports have documented the dire state of Cambodia’s microfinance sector, so I needn’t go into too much detail. But read any news article about it and chances are the CMA will either be quoted or have provided data. And the CMA has become something of a go-to source for international bodies.

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