Acleda- From Microcredit to Commercial Bank

Acleda is a microfinance institution created in 1993 in Cambodia. It was founded as an NGO to assist refugees returning from Thai camps in Cambodia following the Cambodian conflict, who had often lost everything. At the time, the country was in dire economic straits due to the war, looting and the Pol Pot regime. Acleda’s aim was to help poor and rural people obtain microcredit through donations from international organisations.

The context in which the financial institution was launched was particularly difficult, given the country’s cash-based economy and the lack of confidence in the banking system. It is the company’s values – its focus on customer trust and its anti-corruption policy – that have made it successful. Acleda developed in the following years to become a traditional commercial bank. Today, it is Cambodia’s leading bank in terms of total assets and customers. Its culture of transparency and integrity makes it an exemplary company, and many young Cambodians aspire to work there in view of these ideals. Acleda is now striving to ensure financial inclusion for all Cambodians and to support the activities of local SMEs.

The problem

Almost half of the world’s inhabitants have no access to basic financial services and are hence in a poverty trap. They cannot obtain financing for the projects they wish to set up, they struggle to save money, and they have to organise their financial activity on a day-to-day basis. In Cambodia, the poverty rate is nearly 15% according to World Bank data. As in many developing countries, access to basic financial services remains a challenge for the most vulnerable populations.

The solution

Acleda has been developing microfinance solutions since its inception, and is in the process of setting up lending for SMEs. The bank now has more than 400,000 active borrowers, with total loans of more than USD 3 billion. More than 50% of borrowers are women. The institution employs nearly 12,000 people in its 261 branches. In addition, it manages a total of USD 3.4 billion in deposits.

Acleda is developing its international activity, and has established itself in Laos and Myanmar, where it offers private banking and microfinance services.


  • Access to essential financial services;
  • Financing of housing projects;
  • Financing of SME economic projects;
  • Promoting transparency and tackling corruption.

Photo: Pha Lina/PPP Source:

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