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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The icing on a Cambodian cake

The icing on a Cambodian cake

The origins of the well-known cracker LyLy started at an import company owned by a Singarporean, who said “if you want to be rich, [one] has to have the monopoly of a product”, according to Keo Mom, who set up a small-scale handicraft factory to start production of the first LyLy cracker.

“My boss told me that if we have a monopoly on things, even one product, we will become rich,” said Keo Mom, who worked as a sales person for the Singaporean-owned company that imported beer, cakes and beverages.

This idea drove her, and in 2002 she decided to start work with a rice-cracker processing machine bought from a foreign company with about US$50,000.

Keo Mom began a small food manufacturing business out of her home, producing rice crackers in small quantities to sell at the markets in Phnom Penh and its outskirts. Established after the rule of the Khmer Rouge, Keo Mom decided to register her business as a handicraft manufacturer under the name Ly Ly Food Industry, Co Ltd (Ly Ly Food), which is still recognised in the market today.

Keo Mom has led her company to become one of the most well-known local food producers and she decided to expand her business in 2005 after the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, the Asian Productivity Organization and United Nations Industrial Development Organization selected her enterprise to implement the Cleaner Production project.

She said this allowed her a lot of technical assistance and funds to develop the technology, while her products increased in popularity.

“When LyLy was selected, quality and production increased,” she said, adding that it has gained a strong reputation and that it has gradually become associated with healthy and delicious food. Ly Ly Food’s trademarks and attractive packaging designs have been fundamental to its achievements.

“At the first, we had a lot of  difficulties because I was still young with little capital and limited knowledge,”said Keo Mom, adding: “We run this business as a small-scale factory, we have many challanges in mangement, market expansion, increasing the productivities and preparing hygiene.

“We continue to expand and sometimes we lack any capital so we use bank loans to strenghten and improve our business.

“In the beginning, the business lacked capital and no bank would lend us money other than very small amounts. When things picked up the bank provided us loans more easily.”  

This enterprineur claims  she has not done a lot of schooling and finished school in grade nine because she was responsible for supporting her family along with her mother.

Her mother was in bad health but this motivated her, and she completed short courses to help develop her ideas.

Her parents are residents of Takeo but she was born in the Borseth district in Kampong Speu province.

She speaks a little bit of Chinese and a little bit of English.

Her company distributes to all provinces across Cambodia. “I am proud of Khmer goods, people support us and I have the capacity to make good quality products that compete with French products and those imported from neighbouring countries,” said Keo Mom.



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