The Cambodian Young Entrepreneur Awards 2017 celebrated the spirit of Cambodian enterprise, particularly among the country’s youth.
The awards are aimed at recognising young entrepreneurs and giving them the opportunity to show their abilities on the national stage. In addition to bestowing awards, the programme also serves as a stepping stone to international recognition for young businesspeople.
After a tough, six-month process, a shortlist of 15 young entrepreneurs emerged. Junior Chamber International (JCI) and the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Cambodia (YEAC) jointly hosted an event on July 29 at the Sokha Hotel to announce the top five winners.
Five awards were given out: Best Entrepreneur, Best Social Entrepreneur, Best Woman Entrepreneur, Technology Entrepreneurship Award, and the Startup Award.
This is the third time that JCI and YEAC have hosted the competition.
In a speech, Tekreth Kamrang, secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, said entrepreneurs had a big role to play in developing the country, including introducing interesting technology and representing Cambodia to the world. “The success of the young entrepreneur is the success of our country,” she said.
Offering an example of the entrepreneurial spirit, she said that some might see the lack of a particular software resource in Cambodia as a hurdle, but an entrepreneur sees it as a business opportunity.
Mr Khoun Sophorth, CEO and co-founder of Moraket software company, the winner of the Technology Entrepreneurship Award, said: “In 2015 I noticed that our country was importing a lot of software from abroad. It was expensive, costing millions of dollars, and at that time we lacked that kind of software at my company. I figured that Cambodians can do that kind of thing, and we created our own software.”
He added that the main obstacles facing his business are a lack of human resources and problems with Khmer branding.
“All of the software we have created has had problems with trust when it first hit the market. In some aspects, Cambodian software programmers’ abilities remain limited, so we need to find ways to improve their training,” Mr Sophorth said.
Mr Chay Lo, executive director of Teuk Saat 1001, the winner of the “Best Social Entrepreneur Award”, said the award was a huge honour for him, and he hoped it would serve as a motivation for other young entrepreneurs to join in and help society.
“I think that in Cambodia, there are many issues which need solving. If we focus only on business, we will not be able to solve our social problem, especially in rural areas,” he said.