TANG CHHIN SOTHY/ AFP
First skyscraper underway
A boy walks past a model of the Gold Tower 42 high-rise being built on the corner of Monivong and Sihanouk boulevards in Phnom Penh. Cambodian officials broke ground on the country's first skyscraper on March 14, a 42-story tower that when completed will dwarf all other buildings in the low-rise capital. The $240-million high-rise, which will include a library and medical facilities along with luxury apartments, is backed by South Korea's Yon Woo company and is expected to be completed by 2011.
Inspired by eBay, a Cambodian
entrepreneur is planning to work with internet cafes in the capital to launch
a trading portal on line in July.
Ok Sothyvorn, 36, said to get around the limited number of wired computers in
Cambodian households, he plans to train staff at internet cafés to assist
customers using the new online auction website.
site will be called Anakut, which means “the future.”
eBay, the site will require sellers to include information about the item or
service being sold, and will charge the seller but not the buyer a service fee.
Sellers who give false information will be penalized.
eBay, Anakut will offer more personalized service with a 24-hour call center
for customer assistance that will also vet sale information to ensure its
legitimacy. Agents will be sent to inspect big ticket sale offers.
said he envisioned real estate transactions flourishing on the site.
that because credit cards are not common in Cambodia, the service will
introduce scratch cards for sellers to pay their fee to the website. The cards
will be sold at internet cafes and the Anakut office, Sothyvorn said.
on eBay prices are negotiated through an online auction, Anakut will connect
buyers and sellers, leaving it to them to negotiate a price and then inform the
website once a sale has been finalized.
said he first had the idea to launch an online trading site seven years ago
when he came back from working in the IT sector in Canada.
then he has been slowly mobilizing technical and financial support from a small
group of Cambodian and Canadian friends to make the venture possible.
said he recently left his job as an IT manager at ANZ bank to commit himself
fulltime to the project.
idea is not something new. But it will make trading in Cambodia easier by
giving any seller the same venue as a big company and helping buyers find the
best price,” he said, adding that he hopes the site will change the face of
commercial transactions in a country where “most business is still done by
small, family-owned shops.”
slow and expensive internet is bound to undergo a major improvement within a
office in Phnom Penh
is up and running, he said he plans to open branches in Siem Reap and
that Anakut might go public with the scheduled launch of the Cambodian Stock
Exchange in 2009.
eBay went public in 1998, three years after its debut, both its owners became
instant billionaires, a status Sothyvorn doesn’t anticipate having quite as