Representatives of U.S-based tech giant Google and shipping firm UPS met with 120 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) at a workshop Friday aimed at preparing entrepreneurs for tougher competition as Cambodia prepares to integrate into the Asean Economic Community (AEC).
The event gave business owners a chance to get expert advice on improving their export and e-commerce services, said Anthony Nelson, director of public relations for the U.S.-Asean Business Council.
“The format of this includes a variety of international companies that are offering training in their particular sets of skills to SMEs. For example, UPS offers training on how to export and ship products of the country…and Google is talking about how to market your products through the Internet,” Mr. Nelson said.
“My hope is that people will take away basic sets of knowledge of how to position their businesses in an era when the AEC is in effect and they want to drive more exports,” he added.
Mr. Nelson said the relative lack of market penetration from foreign firms in Cambodia in comparison with some of its neighbors meant that businesses in the country have greater “leeway to explore ideas that it can develop now.”
Seng Takaneary, managing director of SentoSaSilk, a silk retailer based in Phnom Penh, said the event would get business owners to start thinking about how to keep up with increasing regional competition.
“Once the AEC is created, the competition will be very strong,” she said. “So we need to know how to be prepared to compete with other countries’ SMEs, and today’s event has alerted local SMEs that it will be a very hot fighting arena they are joining soon.”
Yea Bunna, deputy director-general of the SME and handicraft department at the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft, said training would prove essential to help a growing number of SMEs turn a profit.
“I believe the number of SMEs will increase at a faster rate because young entrepreneurs are running their businesses very actively,” he said. “That’s why we have plans to train them and improve the business environment.”