In the Business of Doing Good? Some Insights from a Cambodian Social Enterprise

19 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2019

See all articles by Milford Bateman

Milford Bateman

Juraj Dobrila University of Pula (UNIPU); St Marys University, Halifax; UFF, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Date Written: September 26, 2019


Given the accelerating global popularity of the social enterprise concept as a response to the growing failings of neoliberal capitalism, there are increasing calls for deeper analysis of some of the leading social enterprises. One of the highest profile examples of a social enterprise is the microcredit institution AMK based in Cambodia. Using data and insights gathered during fieldwork in Cambodia in late 2017 and again in early 2019, as well as secondary data obtained elsewhere, this paper shows how AMK was willing and able to use professional marketing, friendly academics, and a supportive international development community in order to create a seductive narrative that it was ‘doing well by doing good’. In fact, the impact of AMK, as in the case of the many other microcredit institutions in Cambodia and around the world, has been negative not just for its poor clients but for the wider community as well. Reckless lending leading to rising over-indebtedness and gradual land-loss are just two of the negative outcomes associated with the operation of the microcredit sector in Cambodia, and with AMK in particular. Until such problematic examples of a social enterprise are explicitly recognised for what they are and confronted by those promoting the concept with good intentions, the potential for the social enterprise format to be deployed as a genuine force for social impact will remain strictly limited.

Keywords: microcredit, Cambodia, AMK, social enterprise

JEL Classification: G21, D02

Suggested Citation

Bateman, Milford, In the Business of Doing Good? Some Insights from a Cambodian Social Enterprise (September 26, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Milford Bateman (Contact Author)

Juraj Dobrila University of Pula (UNIPU) ( email )

Zagrebačka 30
Pula, 52100

St Marys University, Halifax ( email )

Halifax, nova scotia

UFF, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ( email )

Rio de Janeiro


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