Educationist and businessman Oknha Dr. Mengly J. Quach shares his take on the increasing youth-managed start-ups in the Kingdom with Youth Today’s Agnes Alpuerto.
YT: What is the common mindset of business people like you?
Dr. Mengly: I have been in business here in Cambodia for 14 years now. Business people tend to think differently and perceive the world differently. Businessmen have a specific mindset that drives them to become successful. They think outside the box. That’s actually the difference between employees and entrepreneurs. Employees do what they’re told within guidelines. But for businessmen, they go beyond that. They take risks and take responsibility of whatever outcome the risks entail – good or bad.
Also, we don’t take time lightly. We know how valuable time is so we think for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even if we don’t work, we are constantly thinking about what should be done next and what we should go after.
And this way of thinking should become a habit. It should become like a routine. When you develop and maintain this, you become successful.
YT: Start-ups founded by young people have sprouted over the years. Does this signify that the new generation is now playing an active part in economy-building?
Dr. Mengly: Cambodian youth are like any the other youth in the world. They all are making use of the technological advancements. With the emergence of science and gadgets, the youth are now more driven to do something. The improving quality of education has also opened a wider door for young people to see beyond the horizon. When these young people come to the city, they notice the heavy traffic flow, the lack of transportation, the lack of deliveries. So, they try to tackle these problems and come up with good solutions through their start-ups. Through small-scale business ventures, these students show their creativity, passion and enthusiasm. They see things differently and come up with something that solves problems.
YT: Is entrepreneurship part of the curriculum of MJQE? In what ways do you encourage students to be business-minded?
Dr. Mengly: Most of the young people who are into start-ups now are from our school. We are proud to say that we dominate in that aspect. However, we don’t really have it as part of the high school curriculum.But we do provide exposure by bringing them to different manufacturing companies. We also talk about business perspectives with them. And, we offer short courses that deal with business – ideas, communication and so on. We just started that. We hope more students will be interested in it.
For our students, we provide home economics and macro subjects. These subjects help in developing business mindsets so that they can be well-prepared should they decide to go into business. I am proud to say that our students are very active in entrepreneurship.
YT: Is it advisable for students to go into businesses while studying? How should they manage their time?
Dr. Mengly: Starting your business is really good. It is where you can express your passion and do something that you really love doing. But for students, I suggest that they should be paying attention to their studies for now. Regardless of what you do, if you don’t put weight on your education, it’s somehow useless. When you come into the real world without true knowledge, what can you do? There are some students who stop for a year or two to focus on their start-ups. What happens when the business fails? Not all start-ups last long or end up successfully, so youth shouldn’t jeopardise their education for this.
After they graduate, they can go into businesses that they like. But they also need to consider the market needs – will the products be beneficial? Will they be marketable? Will they be realistic and practical? They also need to consider the demand and supply. Do research and be creative. Do not do what others have done already; do not just reinvent. When you do business, it’s good to offer something new.
To be a successful entrepreneur, one needs to get knowledge first, identify what it is that they really like to do, get financial support, find a good team and then start the business.