Interview with H.E. Dr. Vanmunin Chhieng - Delegate of the Royal Government in charge as Chief Executive Officer of Khmer Enterprise

This week, we had the pleasure of interviewing His Excellency Dr. Vanmunin Chhieng, Delegate of the Royal Government in charge as Chief Executive Officer of Khmer Enterprise. H.E Dr. Vanmunin Chhieng brings extensive experience working for multinationals in Australia's ICT industry before returning to Cambodia to build the nation's startup ecosystem.

Khmer Enterprise (KE) is established by the Royal Government of Cambodia’s sub-decree ៣២០ អនក្ររ.បក, acts as an entrepreneurial ecosystem builder to implement the support programs and directly work with partners and beneficiaries. It aims to mobilize, invest and manage resources, from all legitimate sources, to support the development of a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem and to provide financial and non-financial support to related entrepreneurial ecosystem builders. Read the full interview below. 

EuroCham: What led you to develop Cambodian startups after working for multinationals in Australia in the ICT industry?

H.E. Dr. Vanmunin: After gaining experience working for multinationals in the ICT industry in Australia, I saw an opportunity to contribute to the growth of the Cambodian startup ecosystem. Seeing the potential in Cambodia's emerging tech scene and wanting to make a meaningful impact, I decided to channel my knowledge and expertise into fostering the development of startups in Cambodia. This transition allowed me to leverage my skills in a new environment and support the local entrepreneurial community in realizing their innovative ideas and initiatives.

EuroCham:Despite the ongoing development in various sectors, Cambodia has not yet seen a standout business that garners notable global recognition, resulting in limited exposure to its startup scene internationally. In response to this, what actions has Khmer Enterprise taken to address the lack of international exposure for Cambodia's startup ecosystem and to elevate Cambodian startups to achieve global recognition? 

H.E. Dr. Vanmunin:Khmer Enterprise has been proactive in taking steps to boost the visibility of Cambodia's startup ecosystem globally by initiated and supporting startup accelerator programs that provide mentorship, funding, and networking opportunities to Cambodian startups. These programs help startups improve their business models and accelerate their growth, making them more attractive on the global stage. We have partnerships with international organizations, investors, and accelerators to provide Cambodian startups with access to global networks, markets, and funding sources. Through these initiatives and actions, Khmer Enterprise is working to achieve global recognition and establishing Cambodia as a thriving hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.

EuroCham:Despite the increasing number of startups in Cambodia in recent years, a significant hurdle persists in the scarcity of a skilled workforce in vital areas such as software development, digital marketing, and sales. In your view, what strategies can the government and relevant stakeholders implement to address these obstacles effectively? 

H.E. Dr. Vanmunin:To address the challenge, several strategies could be considered by the government and relevant stakeholders. Firstly, the government can collaborate with industry experts and educational institutions to design and implement specialized training programs tailored to the needs of the growing startup ecosystem. By providing targeted education and skills development, individuals can be equipped with the necessary expertise to meet the demands of the market. Additionally, fostering public-private partnerships can facilitate knowledge sharing and create pathways for mentorship and on-the-job training opportunities. By building a supportive ecosystem that nurtures talent and innovation, Cambodia can enhance its competitiveness in the global market and drive sustainable growth in the startup sector.

EuroCham:Considering that the informal sectors of the Cambodian economy contribute 40% to the country's GDP and employed 85% of its workforce, how does Khmer Enterprise plan to expand its support outreach to these sectors, especially given the government's agenda to formalize the economy?

H.E. Dr. Vanmunin:Khmer Enterprise is taking proactive steps to engage with and assist these sectors. This includes initiatives such as providing tailored business development services, financial support, and training programs to help informal businesses transition to formal status. Khmer Enterprise aims to facilitate the growth and formalization of businesses in the informal sectors, ultimately supporting the government's broader goals of economic development and sustainability.

EuroCham:How can EuroCham and KE work together to continue to build Cambodia’s startup ecosystem?

H.E. Dr. Vanmunin:We can collaborate effectively by leveraging their respective strengths to further build and nurture the country's startup ecosystem. EuroCham can contribute its extensive network of European companies and expertise in business development to connect Cambodian startups with potential partners, investors, and markets in Europe. By facilitating knowledge sharing, mentorship programs, and access to funding opportunities, EuroCham can help Cambodian startups scale up and expand their reach internationally. On the other hand, KE can provide local insights, regulatory support, and access to government initiatives that are crucial for startups to thrive in Cambodia. By collaborating closely with KE, EuroCham can align its efforts with the government's strategies, ensuring sustainable growth and success for the startup ecosystem in Cambodia. Through joint initiatives, workshops, events, and advocacy efforts, EuroCham and KE can create a supportive environment that fosters innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic development in the country.


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