A lecture for Social Entrepreneurship Week was hosted at the University of Cambodia (UC) in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy on November 18, 2011. The U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., Jeff Daigle, delivered the introductory remarks and Public Affairs Officer (PAO) Sean McIntosh delivered the closing remarks. Peter Tan Keo, Vice President for Strategy, Development, and International Cooperation, gave the welcoming address for the half-day event, which was attended by over 200 UC students who wanted to learn more about entrepreneurship strategies and opportunities.
|U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., Jeff Daigle, delivered the introductory remarks at the event|
The event covered several important aspects of entrepreneurship: starting a business, preparing a solid business plan that attracts investors, developing a marketable product, and obtaining and managing a financial budget efficiently. The last session was a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Prum Virak, Public Affairs Specialist (PAS) at the U.S. Embassy.
In his introductory remarks, Chargé d’Affaires Jeff Daigle shared with the audience that Global Entrepreneurship Week is celebrated in over 100 countries through various activities and seeks to inspire the entrepreneurial spirit and showcase how it contributes to a country’s growth. He also said that he believed this event will generate more interest in entrepreneurship in Cambodia and help individuals to “better their lives, their families’ lives, and, ultimately, their communities.”
“The United States has been assisting the Cambodian government as well as Cambodian youth to create and maintain a healthy, democratic society,” he said. “These efforts, combined with the growing entrepreneurial spirit present in so many Cambodians, show Cambodia’s true potential.”
|Distinguished panelists shared their experiences and advice on entrepreneurship with the students.|
The event also included the sharing of success stories by a number of local and other entrepreneurs in Cambodia, who also described some of the challenges and difficulties they encountered in opening and operating a business. These speakers comprised Chang Bunleang and Seng Kang (Managing Partners of Brown Coffee and Bakery); Dieter Billmeier (Vice President of Canadia Bank); Mr. Veasna (Fii & Associates); Sok Hach (President of Economic Institution of Cambodia and CEO of Golden Rice); and Ho Vandy (CEO of World Express Tours and Travel).
Participants in this informative event asked the guest speakers several probing questions concerning their businesses and were offered valuable advice on how to succeed as entrepreneurs. Sok Hach said that individuals in business need to be realistic, true to themselves, and true to their partners. He further elaborated, “What is important [about being an entrepreneur] is to be unconventional; you have to be able to create a very good business plan to attract inventors and as long as you have it, you will have access to loans very easily.”
Chang Bunleng and Seng Kang shared with the students that it was critical to believe in one’s ideas and to remain committed to the project. They recounted how the idea of Brown was conceived and how it became a reality, starting with their part-time jobs in coffee shops in Australia and their belief that similar coffee shops could be replicated in Cambodia. They did not go to any banks for financial support and instead prepared a business plan for their parents and asked them to invest in their idea.
“They [our parents] seemed. . .to not have confidence in us because we did not have a background in business, since we studied architecture, engineering, and the arts,” said Chang Bunleang. “However our strong determination and passion proved to them that we really wanted to try and [were] committed to success.”
Brown is now one of the top coffee shops in Phnom Penh, with a constant growth in sales each year.
Dieter Billmeier, who has been working in the banking sector for more than 30 years, said that the Cambodian banking sector has experienced positive growth. He added that more and more entrepreneurs are seeking investment capital from the bank, and that Canadia Bank commercial loans have broadened the financing opportunities of entrepreneurs in Cambodia.
The University of Cambodia expresses its sincere appreciation to the U.S. Embassy and all of the guest speakers for their contributions to this exciting event, and it looks forward to collaborating on further educational activities with the U.S. Embassy and local businesses.
Source: UC Bulletin December 2011, Page 9