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(PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, December 8, 2020) – COVID-19 has emphasized the significance of environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) activities in businesses around the world. However, there was talk of reform right before the pandemic. Last year, the Business Roundtable (a community of 181 CEOs from America's largest corporations) stated that businesses would "fund the societies in which they work," reversing the long-held emphasis on shareholder wealth maximization advocated by American economist Milton Friedman.

The year is 2020, and things have changed.

This year, Prince Holding Group (“PHG”), one of Cambodia's largest conglomerates, recognized this and blazed a path for companies in the Kingdom seeking to adhere to ESG values. Since April, the Group has made many large-scale donations to aid in the fight against the pandemic and flood victims, and Chen Zhi Prince Group has been a key player in this effort. PHG chairman Chen Zhi has been the driving force behind the donations. For eg, in early December, Chen Zhi and PHG gave Prime Minister Hun Sen US$3,000,000 to assist Cambodia in purchasing 1 million COVID-19 vaccines.

While the concept of “doing good” in business is not fresh, an emphasis on ESG values has only recently risen to the top of the corporate agenda in Cambodia. According to the GRI Sustainability Disclosure Database, the total number of sustainability reports in Cambodia has more than doubled since 2015, with the majority of these reports coming from the financial services sector. More companies are required to follow ESG principles, increasing the competitiveness of the Cambodian economy and attracting foreign investment while also improving the market climate.

Chen Zhi and PHG, as an organization with a large presence in Cambodia, contributed to the war against the coronavirus earlier this year by contributing US$500,000 and supplying pandemic prevention supplies worth more than US$600,000. In October, Chen Zhi and the Group also provided flood relief assistance to flood-affected Cambodians, including 100 tonnes of rice, 300 cartons of instant noodles, and 1,000 cartons of drinking water worth $75,000 in total. Chen Zhi gave a personal donation of US$500,000 to support the victims. And, as previously mentioned, PHG made a major cash donation in December to assist Cambodia with its COVID-19 response, which will assist the government in procuring and distributing vaccines to Cambodians at no cost.
 
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Over the years, the Group's philanthropic arm, the Prince Real Estate Charitable Foundation Organization, has also launched more than 240 charitable activities aimed at improving Cambodian lives through donations of funds and supplies totaling more than US$11 million, benefiting more than 320,000 people.

“As an organization investing in Cambodia's future, Prince Holding Group will always assist communities in their time of need. Furthermore, the Group is constantly contributing to ESG initiatives that support Cambodia and uphold the company's position as a responsible stakeholder in local affairs,” says PHG Chairman Neak Oknha Chen Zhi.

The emphasis on sustainability in corporate activity has come at a significant time, as Cambodia's civil society sector is underfunded. The Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, an umbrella body for the local NGO industry, cautioned last year that its 208 members should “look at other funds from the private sector” over the next five years. The Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS), a Hong Kong-based think tank, reported in July that corporate support accounted for 10% of total funding.


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