Cambodia's Latest Development [Perspectives]: Ms. Keo Kounila, Young Entrepreneur and Blogger
What is your view on Cambodia’s recent development?
I think that Cambodia is currently growing rapidly, especially in the business and service industries. We can see that many foreigners are interested in investing in Cambodia.
First, the biggest growth sector is construction. There is a great deal of construction and investment taking place in Cambodia. For those who have businesses like mine in the service sector, that is really a good opportunity for us to provide services to companies that come to invest in Cambodia.
Because Cambodia has a free market economy, whether one likes it or not, there are winners and losers. But where a free market is practised, there are trickledown effects. That results in benefits to other people, but it needs time.
So, we have to ask ourselves as Khmer youth living in Cambodia, how can we receive benefits from the development that is taking place these days? What languages must we learn more and what skills must we acquire?
Second, Cambodia is part of ASEAN. ASEAN is growing strongly. Even adults in Cambodia have to learn new skills to compete with the energetic youth in the region as well as those in the business sector. That is something they have to be aware of.
I face several challenges, one of which is finding talent. Our human resources are limited. Additionally, with the business sector on such a strong growth curve, those who have businesses must think more deeply about the future. In conclusion, I am benefiting considerably from the atmosphere of stability. The environment is suitable and that is making my own business go forward.
How do you envision Cambodia’s development in the years to come?
We see that the digital market is very fast growing. Many brand companies are interested in digital. These days, many people use their smart phones to access information, to share information, to maintain relationships with friends and other business people.
I think that the area that Cambodia should focus on over the next five years is service providing, because Cambodia has only 15 million people compared to Indonesia’s 200 million. We are very small. There are other countries that are smaller than us, like Brunei and Singapore. But why is Singapore very strong? It experiences financial growth because it focuses on some big areas, such as its ports. Ports have a high growth rate and high economic benefits. Cambodia has a young population, with 60 to 70% of its population under 30 or 35. That is a great potential.
If they are to fully enter the labour force, what can they do? As for services, we also know foreign languages well. So, we can focus strongly on services, not only providing domestic services but also work across ASEAN and we can go further than ASEAN.
I want to make a point that, especially regarding Khmer young people still learning either at high school or a university, they must rethink what they want in the future and what direction they want Cambodia to move towards. Now, as I say, ASEAN is open. Jobs may be available in many places, but to capture them, it depends on our being capable of competing with other people. If we improve our education, our language ability, our technical skills, then we will have the capacity, like others. But again, we must understand what we depend upon, what we are lacking, and strive to improve. Furthermore, our country is developing very well because we are open, and we implement a free market, which provides opportunities to our people. We have to reach out and grab those opportunities. We need to learn a lot from others.