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Can you start a business in Cambodia with $5k?

Posted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:30 pm
by redjade
Hi all a friend of mine has a khmer girlfriend which he had for almost 2 years know. He has been funding her approx $700 pm month with some of the money going to her family in the provinces. She I a nice girl smart hard working but like most comes from poor family and lacks opportunity.

My mates travels alot for work so to be with her all the time of difficulty. He was telling a few of his friends his frustration and what he would really like to do is help her start up her own business so she can make her own money and be independent and take care of her parents.

He said he was willing to part with $5k but couldn't think or find a business or an idea that would work. He told us his problem is he is thinking like a westerner where in actual fact all that she requires is a business that can provide her with an income of $1,000 per month or there abouts

His thought was
1. Salon
2. Open a laundry
3. Open a little store but not sure what

Any one have any suggestions, thoughts or ideas of what some one in her situation can do to make a living


Re: Can you start a business with $5k

Posted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:40 pm
by frank lee bent
pork rice and bobor in the morning.
on no account a salon.
i support a family of 3 on $700 or less so he better watch out

Re: Can you start a business with $5k

Posted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:31 pm
by Duncan
No mater how much you throw into a business for her, it will all be wasted money. A person who WANTS their own business must have the drive, the willingness to put all their effort and time into it to make it succeed. And of-course some basic business education skills like writing everything down that they buy and sell. The days of being able to put something on the self for sale and remembering how much you paid for it , one year ago, and the price you want to sell it for,,, those days are gone.
Most business in Cambodia survive by good luck rather than good management.

Education and work experience for her future is something where I would be putting my money, no matter how old she is.

I have a lot of respect for kids selling books, or shoe shine boys and even the ejai collecting cans. You dont hear them saying we are poor and lack opportunity.

Re: Can you start a business with $5k

Posted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:14 pm
by SinnSisamouth
tell your "friend" he is a mug

u do know that most khmer live on $100/$200 pm?

in two years she should have saved enough instead of buying iphones and getting her hair washed.

one born every minute.

Re: Can you start a business with $5k

Posted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:18 pm
by AE86
I don't mean to be demeaning, but I've seen this story a thousand times over with much more money. Same story every time. "Going to start a small business with my wife/girlfriend. Going to keep it small. Just want to make a little extra money, that's all. I'm sure with the investment she'll do great!"

It never works, and I mean never as in 0% of the time. I know of ONE couple (foreigner with Cambodian girlfriend) who has consistently been able to open a business and turn a profit for any length of time...and that's me and my wife. Consequently, we both previously ran profitable businesses on our own, and even with that we've gone out of business 3 out of 7 times here.

I'm sorry, but all I can say is "forget it", because $1,000 a month is in no way possible with a $5k business from two inexperienced people.

EDIT: I'm saying what I said because I've seen literally dozens of couples lose out on massive amounts of money because they could make it. I don't want to see you lose that $5k, because that's exactly what will happen.

Re: Can you start a business with $5k

Posted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:31 pm
by SinnSisamouth
its his friend not him.

Re: Can you start a business with $5k

Posted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:21 am
by redjade
Thank everyone for your replies and I understand and agree with you opinions but you are missing the point. Most of the comments are commenting on the $700 pm implying that my mates is getting ripped off by this girl. Yes it is true that most Khmer's live on a lot less than that $200, $300, $500 pm or what ever but at this income what is their standard of living.

The bottom line is my mates is single and has money, he did do research before he decided to fund this girl but didn't want her to live in a dog box with no functioning kitchen, bathroom, bad wiring and plumbing and no aircon. He wish to improve her standard of living to find her something which has a few more of the basic comforts that us Western's take for granted. He also wanted her to eat well not basic street food at 0.50 cent a serve and wanted to take the financial burden off her to look after her parents which most Khmer's do.

People this is not important this is his business how he wants to support her. His dilemma is that he is thing like those of you that have commented regarding setting up some kind of small business for her. Yes you are right when you say that $5K will not be able to generate a small business with an income of $1000 pm well lets say $500 pm.

Those of you that have commented and have had business are right. However your business I would imaging are more of a commercial type venture based on Western thoughts and idea. You probably mostly likely are try to capture more of an affluent market being, Westerns, expats and wealthy Khmer's and you are also trying to generate a higher income to suit you lifestyle and needs This is his thinking as well.

However we are talking about a local Khmer, their businesses are small in nature, with smaller overheads. They work 7 days a week and long hours, most of them will be transnational. This is the market he doesn't understand and I guess buy the responses neither do we.

But to put it simply does anyone have any business suggestion that a local can set up at low cost to make a living from.

As an example another mate, paid for a mobile phone course for his brother in law, he was working on the roads making $180pm he told me he paid $300 for a mobile course and gave him $3000 to set up a small mobile phone business near the market the room he rents is like 2.5 m x 2.5m he can only really have a cournter and sit in their but after 3 months he is make approx $400 to $500 pm from repairs and sales

This is the type of idea i was looking for.

Thanks everyone and I appreciate and value all your responses.

Re: Can you start a business with $5k

Posted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:30 am
by phuketrichard
I know one person ; they brought a bike and had a closed in cart made and she sells fruit drinks for $1-$1.5 ( she works alone) and she usually is around the Palace so good walk in traffic.
Total cost was less than $4,000.
she sells average 50-60 drinks/day, 10 hours/day. one day off a week. Tells me, a good month she makes around $500 PROFIT>

so as always Location, location, location

Re: Can you start a business with $5k

Posted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:14 am
by AE86
Just to chime in, and sorry if I sounded a bit irritated (I was outside all day yesterday and was a bit fried). I'll just give you an idea of how business has been for me and my wife, and some suggestions I have. Hopefully this helps.

My own businesses were actually all directed at Khmer people. I don't do anything western "style" because, this isn't the west, :lol: I do not advertise to foreigners because the market is far too small.

Here's my advice, as a current business owner.

1. Find something they actually like to do. Don't ask the question "Will I make money?" Because half assed businesses do not go well at all.

2. Develop related skills in that business first. i.e. If you want to have a salon, they better be good at styling hair. Not just good as in "Oh, good job honey.", I mean that people genuinely like what they do. Think if someone you hated got a haircut from someone, would they be happy with their haircut regardless? That's how I judge the quality of the whatever product the business is doing.

3. Budget way lower than your quote. i.e. If you say 5k, shoot for 2.5-3k because there are always unforeseen things that will hit you, always. I've been involved in 7 businesses here, and every single one had something expected happen, two times it took me out of business completely.

Now with that having been said, here a list of businesses/contractors I wish existed more in Phnom Penh.

Reliable knowledgeable electrician.
Reliable aircon tech who wont steal parts of new air conditioners
Reliable honest small moto mechanic who uses good parts
Reliable courier to run errands
Good clean street food

All of these can be a someone's business with a little startup on tools or equipment and eventually make that $500 a month or so, or more. $2.5-3k will be more than enough to allow someone to train (buy some stuff and experiment with repairing things or selling things on their own), and have decent equipment to get the job done when needed.

Sorry it's all over the place, this post. Just writing off the top of my head.

EDIT: One last thing, and this is not to be demeaning towards Khmer, but I've found they in general are not very strong negotiators. Business is about negotiation to a point, and if they are not good at dealing back and forth with people, knowing how to defend a fair price for their business without getting defensive, I don't recommend at all doing any kind of business. Doing your own business requires a bit of thick skin and interacting with people AND their money, and it's this skill I've seen very few Khmer being actually adept at.

Re: Can you start a business with $5k

Posted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:32 am
by taabarang
"But to put it simply does anyone have any business suggestion that a local can set up at low cost to make a living from."

I live in a small village where there are quite a few mom and pop enterprises. Most of the families do it for "egg money" while relying on farming, factory work or prostitution in a big city to bring in the sustenance income.

One of the problems is that locals see such a local store and imitate it. Then there's a glut of hairdressers, barbers, kilometers of stands selling gas in old 1&2 liter pop bottles and so on. So I can only suggest that your friend have the girl and her family do the most basic of marketing.

1. What are they good at? Will training be required ?
2. What does the village need That isn't currently offered.

Those are just a start-a dumbed down sample if you will.

Not a few Cambodians live in a dog box; some have dreams and some don't, but few have access to resources that your friend is offering. You say he's done his homework, but I don't think it's finished.