A Change of Guard

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Monday, 30 April 2012

By Stuart Alan Becker
Monday, 30 April 2012 
Phnom Penh Post 

Business is the most important activity for the Cambodian people. The government does not have the resources to support the 14.8 million people who live in this small, unique country and the multi-national corporations that come here are legally obligated to their shareholders to make profits.

Phnom Penh Post Group Business Editor Stuart Alan Becker
So what’s available to help poor Cambodians improve their lives? Business.

If you look around at the faces of Cambodians who survived the Khmer Rouge period you can see there’s no nostalgia for communist terror and mass killing. There’s only gratefulness to be alive and have a chance to rebuild the family, get a motorcycle or a car, have a nice place to live and send the kids to school.

The importance of business cannot be overstated. I’m not talking about capitalism as an ideology nor am I promoting greed.

What I’m talking about and what I’m promoting is a spirit of service to others. Many successful Cambodian businessmen you see today stated out with nothing.

They came to Phnom Penh from the province, stayed in a pagoda, went to school, started repairing bicycles, got a job somewhere and slowly, by degrees, they made something from nothing.

We plan to feature those rags to riches stories in the business pages. They saw what was possible and they created a way to serve other people. They sat with a few tools by the side of the road and repaired bicycles and motorcycles for whoever passed by.

Whether it was a car wash, a restaurant, an internet shop, or a cart full of fresh coconuts, this spirit of Cambodian entrepreneurship dates back tens of thousands of years.

If you were a farmer in the Angkor period, you had to get your bananas and mangos to the marketplace so you could trade them for the things you and your family needed, clothing and shoes, tools and medicine.

The principles of business, getting up early and getting your product to market on time, were true a thousand years ago and they’ll be true a thousand years from now.

This is the spirit that needs to catch on here in Cambodia, more clearly, more sharply.

The same spirit is also true in the news business and Cambodia is a gold mine of stories. Everywhere you look are men and women who survived the hardships of the past, have taken the risk to lease premises, open shops, get inventory and hang up a sign.

We’re going to increase the amount of local stories in Business Post and create an atmosphere of rewarding entrepreneurship. We’re going to offer stories to our readers about how people here in Cambodia have overcome obstacles and hardships to triumph in business.

They saw a market and they created it by their vision. That’s not only inspiring; it is also instructive.

By reading these stories, ideas may be gained of how others did it. This can be very inspiring and enriching.

We have both the Post English and the Post Khmer as instruments of this universal entrepreneurial spirit.

If you know of a good story, rags to riches, or somebody who has had the guts and taken the risk to offer something new to the Cambodia population, send me an email at stuart.becker@gmail.com.

We’re out to create an atmosphere for business of all kinds to flourish in Cambodia. We are going to do this by rewarding entrepreneurship with publicity.

We’re going to promote not only local Cambodian entrepreneurship but also foreign investment.

We take a stand in favour of business as the most logical means of enriching the lives of Cambodian citizens and therefore when people come from all over the world with their money to invest in Cambodia we reward them too, with stories about their projects in our business pages.

Foreign or local, male or female, big or small, risk-taking business people are what the Business Post is all about.

In this manner we keep the public informed of what’s happening and we show real people who started out with little or nothing and overcame hardships in order to serve their customers.

We love and support the spirit of service to others.

Stuart Alan Becker is Group Business Editor of The Phnom Penh Post, English and Khmer.Contact Stuart at stuart.becker@gmail.com

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