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Cambodia’s start-up scene is mushrooming as local and foreign entrepreneurs roll out their innovative ideas at a staggering pace. We take a look at some of those leading the pack.
In November 2011, Ear Uy and Yok Chivalry launched Cambodia’s first gaming studio in the form of Sabay Osja Studio and immediately began work on their first release, Asva the Monkey. Within two weeks of its release it became the country’s most downloaded game on the online Apple store, also reaching number one in Brazil. To date more than 200 games have been developed by the team. As well as their own success, Sabay Osja Studio has also provided training in the game design realm – an area where there is little formal teaching within the country.
It was Cambodia’s litter problem that led to Frenchmen Maxime Lescoeur and Pierre Faiyre quitting their jobs and trying to tackle the issue after moving to the country. Confronted by mountains of litter and excessive packaging, the duo set about finding ways of providing eco-friendly alternatives. Launched in 2015, EcoSense Cambodia provides biodegradable food packaging as an alternative to styrofoam and plastic. Made from natural resources such as sugar cane, it offers a green solution to the current problem plaguing the country, and has already succeeded in changing the thinking of a string of restaurants and other outlets across the country.
Lucky Iron Fish is a social enterprise that started life in Cambodia before gaining international acclaim. Aimed at tackling iron deficiency, which can lead to anaemia, impaired cognitive ability and hamper physical development in children, one Lucky Iron Fish can provide a family with up to 90% of the recommended daily iron intake for up to five years. Simple to use – you just have make sure the little iron fish is inside the pot in which you’re cooking your meal – the product was tested in Cambodia over a nine-month period. A 50% decrease in clinical iron deficiency anaemia was noted. Since its inception, it has been rolled out to other developing countries.
Another startup focusing on ridding Cambodia of its rubbish problem is Cleanbodia. Founder Kai Kuramoto was fed up with seeing the country’s natural beauty destroyed by plastic bags and other waste so he set about creating an environmentally friendly alternative. The result is Cleanbodia, a company that specialises in creating biodegradable bags made from the root vegetable cassava, which can commonly be found across Southeast Asia. The beauty of them is that they disintegrate within five years, rather than the thousands of years that plastic bags hang around for.
While living in Australia four-and-a-half years ago, Kongngy Hav spotted houses being built from sustainable materials. Further fuelled by his compassion for garment workers who live in cramped conditions and soaring house prices pushing many young Cambodians out of the market, he came up with the idea for My Dream Home. Launched in 2014, the social business produces interlocking bricks to allow poor and middle-income Cambodians to build easily constructible, eco-friendly housing at affordable prices – costing as little as 20 to 40% less than traditional houses. To date, more than 45 houses have been built across the country.