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How Cambodia is turning its youth into entrepreneurs

Cambodia's young entrepreneurs are taking advantage of social programs to start enterprises from scratch and help improve their communities.

More and more Cambodian youth are turning to entrepreneurship, thanks to the development of technology and support from various social groups.

Entrepreneurship has the potential to help the development of this Southeast Asian country by creating more jobs, generating more national income through tax, improving living standards and bringing about positive social changes.

Kuy Vat, vice president of Young Entrepreneur Association of Cambodia (YEAC), tells DW that compared to the past, Cambodian youths now are much more aware of entrepreneurialism because information is more available.

He adds that the involvement from entrepreneur associations also contributes to the number of young entrepreneurs in Cambodia.

More attention is also being given to entrepreneurialism by the government and business associations.

Read more:Cambodia: Youths making their voices heard

Support from the government

The Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is working to push and motivate its people to create and support enterprises.

In a short clip released on the ministry's Facebook page, minister Hang Choun Naron, stressed that "everyone has the potential to be an entrepreneur. It is our responsibility to give youth the opportunity to explore their potential and to prepare them for future endeavors."

Ros Soklim, spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Education, tells DW that entrepreneurship is a part of the education reform. "Our youth need to be equipped with both skills from school and skills in the real economic world."

Vat says he and his team organize a monthly event where experienced and successful entrepreneurs join and share their experience with the younger generation and with those who wish to start their own enterprise.

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Best practices

Some of Cambodia's young entrepreneurs are already ready to start their enterprise from scratch and help change their society.

Em Chanrithykol, founder of DoyDoy and a winner of Cambodian Young Entrepreneur Awards 2017 tells DW he has always wanted to run his own business, although he lacks practical experience. He joined events and learnt from innovation labs to eventually learn the process of entrepreneurship.

Chanrithykol, whose enterprise now created educational materials, was motivated by his 5-year volunteer experience and the lack of learning tools in the Cambodian education system.

"I have seen a lot of learning tools and extracurricular activities in other schools but not in Cambodian schools," he says. "It motivated me to create something and run the enterprise to make a change in society."

Hav Kongngy, founder of My Dream House, could not himself afford a house after working hard for seven years. It struck him how others with much less income than his are struggling. He was inspired to run his enterprise, which provides low and middle income families with more affordable alternatives.

"We are an agent of change contributing to housing sectors by reducing the price of houses by 20-40 percent. The material used in construction is more environmentally friendly as well," Kongngy tells DW.

Look for positive outcomes

Though there is a lot of potential and energy, new and prospective entrepreneurs still need to continue learning.

Vat suggests that young entrepreneurs try to work hard first before seeking profit in a short period of time, adding that it is better to focus on one thing and master it before they try to diversify.

He adds that the senior and experienced entrepreneurs are always ready to help orient younger generations and increase productivity together.

"Whatever I try to do with my business, I always try to look at the consequences and balance them," Chanrithykol says. "It is bad if you earn so much money but are negatively impacting society."

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