Blog 3: The Rise of the Cambodian Entrepreneur?

A new generation

(source: creative commons)

Southeast Asia can be considered one of the most entrepreneurial regions in the world. Traditional businesses are still doing well, but a new generation of entrepreneurs is making headway these days. This rise is mainly due to developing Southeast Asian nations:

  • being among the youngest in the region,
  • the growth of local markets,
  • continuing urbanization and;
  • an evolving middle class.

For the young generation to also enter global markets, their activities are supported by governmental and non-governmental organizations. Not only are these supporters providing finances and services, they also help in encouraging the society to change in acceptance of a new kind of activities that can make you a living.


The recent emergence of Cambodia as a lower-middle income country makes a good case to explore this Southeast Asian trend. In what ways does this post-conflict and labeled ‘dependent nation’ manage to provide fertile grounds to startups and young entrepreneurial ventures?

Building on recent data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor several pathways to Cambodian success in stimulating entrepreneurship can be traced. In a forthcoming IIAS publication I will discuss in what ways the Cambodian government can be considered a gatekeeper or even a gate constructor. Here, however, I already want to propose a few pathways that are can be followed to help Cambodian entrepreneurs to seize new opportunities.

Questions we need to ask

What is the role of crowdfunding, the banking sector and the donor community in finding finance?

In what ways does the Education sector manage to promote creativity and innovation?

Of course, the most important question that only time will answer remains: will contemporary Cambodia finally cut loose from violent and authoritarian past and commit to the opportunities of a creative future?

I will keep you posted when the full article is available, and in the mean time, I am travelling back to Southeast Asia for a few weeks to discover new topics to write to you about 🙂