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Q&A: Boosting innovation to create more business

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
Tan Kosal, director of the National Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, on the roadmap for Cambodia’s future entrepreneurship skills and the first National Entrepreneurship Award 2020. KT/Siv Channa

Khmer Times’ Sok Chan spoke to Tan Kosal, director of National Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (NIEI) on the role of the institute to boost the entrepreneurship skills and encourage local entrepreneurs and how this institute can contribute to the demand for investment capital and utilisation by micro and small enterprises as potential key engines of a more diversified and technically skilled economic development across Cambodia

KT: Could you briefly talk about the National Institute of Entrepreneurs and Innovation (NIEI)?

Kosal: The NIEI has just changed its name from the Institute of Entrepreneurship Cambodia-India in early 2019. Before it was a Cambodia-India Entrepreneur Development Centre, then, in 2014, it was transformed to the Institute of Entrepreneurship Cambodia-India, and currently the National Institute of Entrepreneurs and Innovation.

NIEI envisages being a nationally and internationally recognised Entrepreneurship and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Institution through the use of modern facilities with our qualified and professional trainers. NIEI recognises the role of small businesses in providing large-scale employment for equitable distribution and effective mobilisation of capital resources and skills in Cambodia.

It aims to contribute to the demand for investment capital and utilisation thereof by micro and small enterprises as a potential key engine of a dispersed economic development in Cambodia. NIEI Training Programmes offer an opening for existing low productive enterprises to scale up on the productivity score, besides helping create new businesses with an overarching goal of sustainable poverty reduction by augmenting job creations together with enhancing self-employment among the rural and urban youth, women and men.

KT: How many students have graduated from the institute and what percent of them were employed?

Kosal: So far, the NIEI has provided training to nearly 20,000 students in technical and vocational training and entrepreneurship skills. We provide the entrepreneurship skills and vocational training such

as air-conditioning, electricity, mechanics, accounting, English literature, marketing and business management etc… After the students received the training from the institute, more than 90 percent of them were employed various companies, and 10 percent are operating their own businesses.

KT: Why are vocational training and entrepreneurship skills crucial for the country?

Kosal: In fact, these skills will push economic growth and the entrepreneurship skills will help society to reduce poverty and to become a developed country in 2050. It is important. Before, a lot of people were not aware of the vocational training skills and not interested in them, but now there are more Cambodian students aware of vocational training. They [Cambodian youths] started enrolling in the training and vocational training skills and courses and they can earn a lot of money and it is sustainable job.

We saw the number of the students registered in the vocational training skill and entrepreneurship course has increased remarkably in the last three years. At present, the most-needed skills in the market are

in engineering, construction, electricity and air-conditioning. They can earn from $300 to $400 and more than 1,000 per month. Every year, we encourage people to study vocational training. It is a real skill that can enable a better life.

KT: Recently, NIEI has initiated the first National Entrepreneurship Award 2020 by collaborating with Khmer Enterprise, the implementation unit of the Entrepreneurship Development Fund (EDF) of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation. What is the purpose of this?

Kosal: Of course, this is the first time that the government has initiated the first National Entrepreneurship Award, and the Ministry of Labour assigned this job to the institute to handle it. We want to promote entrepreneurship in Cambodia. Our awards are designated by categories: agriculture, service-tourism, information and technology and manufacturing. We will make use of these awards to reach the high standard awards like other countries such as Singapore. We will discuss with the relevant stakeholders to figure out the real skills needed at present. We study the market needs and we will provide training and adds more skills to the market.

KT: When does the first National Entrepreneurship Award 2020 begin?

Kosal: We will hold the first National Entrepreneurship Award in August to promote entrepreneurship and innovation among young entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and tech-startups across 25 provinces and the capital. We are now opening applications until the end of this month.

KT: What are the designated sectors to be involved in the award and what is the prize for the first, second and third winners?

Kosal: We will focus on tech startups, services, agro-processing and agriculture for export and manufacturing. The application will open until the end of this month and the competition process and award winner announcement will be in July and August. The first prize will receive $10,000, with a second prize of $5,000 and $3,000 for the third prize.

We are trying to build the capability of entrepreneurs and SMEs and young startups, capability building through sharing experiences, success and lessons from failures learned through entrepreneurship. We support them through mentorship and building a network between young entrepreneurs, SMEs and young tech startups to link with each other to exchange and cooperate and share lessons learned.

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