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Catholic man ranked in Top Ten in Cambodia's National Entrepreneurship Awards 

The Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation has named Mr. Sorn Meak, the Coco de Takeo manager and a devout Catholic, as one of the top ten finalists for the National Entrepreneurship Award in 2023.

Meak was selected from twenty candidates from the provinces of Cambodia, small and medium-sized (SME) Cambodian entrepreneurs, at a ceremony held at the Cambodian Hotel in Phnom Penh on November 15.

The National Entrepreneurship Award was established in 2020 and is held annually to raise awareness of the important roles of SMEs in Cambodia and strengthen and expand public-private partnerships and social responsibility through building the future of entrepreneurship in Cambodia.

The competition has two stages: in the first round, all candidates have to present their enterprise for 8 minutes, with a judging panel to select 10 people. In the second round, the top 10 candidates have to answer some questions from the scoring committee.

Entrepreneurs from a variety of industries, including those involved in food processing, education, manufacturing, and services, participate in this fourth-year competition.

Mr. Meak, who was ranked among the top ten, said that he gained valuable insight and acquired new experiences from entrepreneurial partners who possess the capability to enhance his program.

"Today I think Coco de Takeo really won. We won over what we thought was impossible, and we have reached the top 10,” Meak said.

Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler, the apostolic vicar of Phnom Penh, co-sponsors and supports Coco de Takeo, a small handicraft business in Chamkar Teang village, Kous commune, Tram Kak district, Takeo province. 

This handicraft includes weaving products from silk, coconut​ shells, and banana trees, as well as processed products from coconuts such as tea​ port, coconut oil, soap, coconut candy, flower baskets, and so on.

Based on the experience and comments of the committee, the Catholic entrepreneur said that his craft needs to develop additional strategic plans to sustain financial and market leadership. He said he would strengthen and continue to apply to compete in the coming years.

The competition process took place in each province last September, which was similar to the national level, but the provincial committee went to the site to observe and give advice, and the ranked candidates had to come to the exam at the national level.

​Mr. Chandara Chhen, the winner of prize number one and director of Battambang Jasmine Rice Refinery, said that this program has encouraged local entrepreneurs to expand their companies, especially in the current economic crisis. In this competition, we see that in developing countries like Cambodia, there are innovative entrepreneurs who are creating a driving force for economic growth.

"I am ready to help, strengthen, and promote this program next year and help [meet] the needs of Cambodian entrepreneurs," Chhen added.

During the closing and awarding ceremony for outstanding entrepreneurs, Mr. Sour Heng, Minister of Labor, urged all participants to further fortify their endeavors to contribute to the well-being of the family economy, employee economy, and national economy.

"Entrepreneurs must share income [from] their activities not only for themselves but also for the nation in order to develop, support the community, and also help the environment," said Heng.

The minister added that he wanted more entrepreneurs to participate and make the program more solemn, attracting more attention from the top government and leading to regional and international competition.

Mr. Chandara Chhen, Director of Jasmine Rice Bran Oil Refinery in Battambang Province, won the first prize for 2023; Ms. Lon Molikar Chao, Founder of Cambodian Standard Development and Supply Co., Ltd. in Phnom Penh, secured the second prize; Mr. Selsocheat Chan, President of Eche Ngov Heng Company in Kampot Province, secured the third place; and Mr. Vannak Soth, Founder of Australian Pacific Investment Co., Ltd., secured the fourth place.

In addition to receiving certificates from the Ministries of Economy and Finance and Labor and Vocational Training, the winners will serve as advisors to the NIEI, the judging panel for the following year's competition, and as guest speakers at the NIEI Entrepreneurship Program. They will also represent NIEI at regional entrepreneurship awards. -Kagnha Keo


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