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Research shows Cambodian entrepreneurship tendency

120601_08

Indochina Research general manager Laurent Notin.

Ninety–nine per cent of Cambodians have a television set in their home, according to data compiled by Indochina Research.

“We know everybody watches television,” said General Manager Laurent Notin. “Television is the most trusted media channel for Cambodians.”

The saturation of television is only one of the interesting results of the data collected by Notin and his team, based on an aggregation of results from different surveys conducted during the third and fourth quarters of last year.

Ninety-four per cent of Cambodians aged 15 or more own mobile phones. Eighty-six per cent own motorcycles, but only 10 per cent own cars.

When broken down according to urban versus rural automobile owners, 14 per cent of urban dwellers are car owners, while only five per cent of rural people own cars.

Notin, who runs a team of 50 people in Cambodia, mostly conducting surveys with questionnaires, says the rural areas measured in the surveys are only those within a 25 kilometre radius from urban areas such as Phnom Penh, so some of the data might not accurately represent the very rural countryside.

“Research has shown that new products and services appeal very much to Cambodians. They will try something new. Cambodians have a thirst for learning. I think it is part of the same phenomenon, learning about a new product or service, and it shows the country is developing and the country is less and less isolated,” Notin said.

As for the educational status of Cambodians, 73 per cent of the rural population has only completed primary school as their highest level of education. In urban areas, the number is 31 per cent attaining only sixth grade educations.

This indicates, naturally, that in order to become educated, people from the countryside tend to come to the cities.

“The urban populations are better educated and you want to get higher education, obviously you want to migrate to urban cities. That means Cambodian cities will likely continue to grow,” Notin said.
“It is also very interesting that there is no vocational or technical schooling.”

As for occupational status, most Cambodians prefer to own their own business. Sixty-one per cent of the population states that they are self-employed.

“Everybody has a business,” Notin said. “For a Cambodian, owning his own business is important. That means entrepreneurship is very strong in Cambodia. The trend is to mix personal revenue with business revenue.”

Twenty per cent of Cambodians are students.  

As for employment, 37 per cent of the rural population works in agriculture and six per cent of urban dwellers work in the agricultural sector.

“Clients ask us to interpret the data and give them some recommendations they can act upon,” Notin said.

For employment in the total Cambodian population, 19 per cent of people are involved in agriculture and 19 per cent in wholesale and retail trade, which means the many ‘mom and pop’ shops around Cambodia, Notin says. Seventeen per cent of Cambodians are employed in professions, IT or real estate, with ten per cent in transportation and storage.

Only six per cent of Cambodians work in handicrafts.

When it comes to household income and expenditures, less than two per cent of all Cambodians claim to earn between $800 and $2,000 per month. In urban areas that increases to six per cent.

In other interesting data, 23 per cent of Cambodians have fixed-line telephones; 28 per cent of urban residents own computers, while only five per cent of rural residents own computers.

“Fifty-one per cent of urban people have radios and 63 per cent of rural people have radios, which means that radio is a good means of communicating with the rural population.”

“In communicating with the rural population, radio is a good means.”

In terms of household assets ownership, 99 per cent of the population claim to own their own home and 73 per cent claim to own their own property. Only three per cent of Cambodians have non-mobile internet at home and five per cent have access to the internet via mobile services of the total population. Seven per cent of Cambodians have mobile internet access in the urban areas.

One of the most striking things about the research is how important family is for Cambodians. The single most important value listed on surveys is the importance of the family.

“This is a very family-driven society,” Notin said. “It is a very social society. Sixty-five per cent of people say their friends are important and 57 per cent say they like doing things in a group.”

Indochina Research has offices in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos with about 125 employees, 50 of whom work in the Cambodia office.

Since he arrived in February, 2006 to head the Cambodia team, Notin says he’s experienced a remarkable level of energy among the Cambodian people.

“One trend that I’ve seen since I’ve arrived, which is still true, is that this country is full of energy. I can’t define what it is, but there’s something in the air.”

“We have seen significant growth in the research business during the past six years now and there are still tremendous opportunities for us.” 

To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Alan Becker at stuart.becker@gmail.com

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