RMIT Vietnam NewsBringing innovation to Cambodia’s startup scene

Bringing innovation to Cambodia’s startup scene

Thursday, September 20, 2018 - 10:43

These days one can’t help but feel a sense of optimism on the streets of Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. After years of conflict, the country is now into its second decade of strong economic growth, and is currently nurturing a young but thriving entrepreneurial scene.  

For RMIT alumnus Ratanaktepy Sam, who goes by Tepy, the changing business environment in Cambodia represents opportunity.

“About 65% of people in Cambodia are under the age of 35, and there are more people working as freelancers or in digital jobs, not traditional occupations” says Ms Tepy, who graduated with a Master of Finance degree in 2015.

This means that demand for innovative roles is increasing, while digital nomads from both Cambodia and abroad are flocking to the capital city.

“Saha’ka means to collaborate,” Ms Tepy said.

“We wanted to create a place that has a standard of professionalism but is affordable at the same time. We also wanted to make it a collaborative space where entrepreneurs and professional individuals would be able to share experiences and connect to one another.”

Ratanaktepy Sam is co-founder of Saha’ka, a co-working space to service the thriving startup scene in Cambodia.

Ms Tepy and her business partners founded the co-working space Saha’ka in early 2018. Saha’ka features 550 square metres of communal spaces, private offices and other facilities. It is, however, much more than simply a place to work.

“Most of our clients so far are expats who want to kickstart a business in Cambodia,” Ms Tepy explained.

“One of the reasons they come here is because we can provide them with a business postal address for registration. We also help them with basic things like handling registration with the Ministry of Commerce or the Taxation Department. We help them to set up a footprint in Phnom Penh.”

Recently, Ms Tepy was selected to pitch Saha’ka’s business model for the TOP100 APAC – Cambodia Qualifiers and joined the final round in Singapore.

“Attending these events mentor us a little and expose us to what is happening in neighbouring countries,” she shared.

“With that, it gives us a better idea of how we can change and improve ourselves to keep up with the trends.”

Moving forward, Ms Tepy and the rest of the Saha’ka team plan to expand the services they offer to include business consultations, HR support, creative services and more.

Ms Tepy has partnered up with local startups and entrepreneurs to raise Cambodia’s profile.

“I want to turn Saha’ka into more of an entrepreneurial and innovation hub for Cambodia, a one-stop place for people around the APAC region to get connected to the community within the country,” she said.

Story: Michael Tatarski