In Cambodia, e-commerce businesses are among the most popular in the startup world. As local use of mobile wallets becomes more widespread, a new startup has come onto the market to allow locals to buy online via Facebook messenger — and be connected with hundreds of coupons at the same time, making their online shopping even more appealing than travelling to the store. Southeast Asia Globe talks to Sokneang N Nodzak, the founder of freshly-launched startup Kokopon, to discuss her business idea and her experience as a female entrepreneur in Cambodia
Why do you think this business will be a success? What does it offer that is not already on offer in Cambodia?
I think this business will dramatically grow in the upcoming year, because it is offering Cambodians access to great deals on a wide range of products and services. Kokopon is the very first e-commerce platform in the Kingdom that allows customers to pay for online purchases through Facebook Messenger by using Pipay wallet. It is important to allow Cambodians to pay via Facebook Messenger, because a lot of online stores in the country offer their goods on Facebook, and now interested buyers can automatically pay for what they want rather than using an intermediary.
Your beta test recently launched, and you’ve had dozens of users already. Do you have plans to expand the concept in the near future?
We will definitely be looking for investors who are willing to join our company, and who are up for the challenge of actively working with us to overcome challenges. We are working so hard each day with our team to help reach our target, trying to get the word out to get as many users and as many local businesses on board as possible. We have dozens of partners already. Once we have expanded in Phnom Penh, we definitely plan to extend to the provinces, to help people outside of the city begin to use e-commerce for buying the goods they need.
You are a female entrepreneur in Cambodia. How did you get your start in the tech world?
Back when I used to work as a software developer in a Korean software company that was headquartered in Seoul. I can say that I have had a lot of experience working in a lot of tech businesses, and I’ve had wonderful mentors who have always supported me and guided me into the tech field and into entrepreneurship itself. Without them, I’d definitely get lost sometimes to be honest — but they have been such a comfort and are helping me expand Kokopon because they see great potential in it.
Can you identify some of the main challenges for female entrepreneurs in Cambodia?
As a woman entrepreneur in Cambodia, the challenge that I have faced so far is having to step out of my comfort zone and go out to tell people that we, as women, can do the same things as men. Stop judging us, stop thinking that women are always ending up as housewives after getting married. Women in the 21st century are so powerful and ambitious. Last but not least, I want to tell all women out there: do not give up your dream because you think you have the responsibility to take care of your family rather than find time for yourself. In order to build a better tomorrow, you need to be a role model for your children in the future as well.