Cambodia’s future looks bright as a new generation of budding young entrepreneurs emerge on the country’s ever-expanding tech scene.
During the last few years, an increasing number of tech-savvy youngsters have been turning their talents into big business as they cash in on the country’s burgeoning mobile and technology scene.
The industry has been helped by the surge of Cambodian IT and business graduates taking the initiative and starting their own business. These budding young entrepreneurs are specialising mainly in the areas of e-commerce and mobile technology, where little capital is needed to launch.
Sen Tharo, 22, is the brains behind TrendX – a fashion app the Limkokwing University graduate developed. He says that although Cambodia is behind other countries when it comes to the tech scene, he feels the youth here have what it takes to take the country into the future.
“Start-ups could be powerful in driving innovation and youth’s leadership,” he says. “It requires the perfection of innovation, not just plainly technology. About 60% of Cambodia is made up of young people, and they could be the drive of innovation.”
Helping to nurture this growth is several initiatives aimed at offering advice and help to young entrepreneurs as well as well as mentoring. Hackerspace is one venture that offers start-ups a place to meet and nurture ideas. CoLab is another initiative offering work space to creative entrepreneurs.
However, there is currently no Government-run schemes to nurture the industry – Something Tharo believes could really help boost the scene, and in turn, potentially, the country’s economy.
“Start-up is all about potentiality and innovation, and while it might be not the real short-cut to Cambodia’s development, at least it would definitely be beneficial for youth development,” he explains.
“There are no official government programs but a few international on-going institutions. An accelerating program as well as tech venture is vital to mobilise the critical execution of Cambodia’s entrepreneurs-to-be.
“It is a matter of mentorship, international experiences, strategic development and networking.”
And in a country that has seen the younger generation embrace technology, the Internet and social media with fervor it looks like Cambodia’s tech scene is set to explode during the next decade.
“Start-up could be totally diverse as mobile subscribers could perform any tasks on the cloud and mobile,” Sen, who travelled to Stanford Business School in America to help develop his app, adds.
“This could include street-food e-commerce. The important of aspect is that Cambodia could be one of the most dynamic countries in the tech start-up scene due to its young population.”
As well as developing Government schemes and welcoming more initiatives aimed at giving entrepreneurs a platform to grow, Tharo says he would like to see more of his peers develop the confidence to follow their dreams.
“Subconsciously, we were raised to believe we are inferior by nature. I think 99% of Cambodians would say ‘ýes’ when asked if they want to own their own business,” he comments.
“However, most of Cambodian parents find the irrelevancy of risk-taking, which is what is required the most in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is about doing something important. You never know how much you can inspire others and what you can achieve so I want to see more people going for it.”