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Sandwiched between cultures

It was not her degree in finance and banking that encouraged Keo Sopheap to start her own business. It was her sister’s marriage to an American that introduced her to foreign fast food. Now Sopheap owns a sandwich shop in Phnom Penh.

“This shop was created by my sister and me,” Sopheap said. Her sister and her husband recently traveled to Africa and sold fast food to American soldiers and Sopheap had to run the shop on her own.

“It took us only one and a half months to finish all food lessons,” the 25-year-old said. “Then we were employed in one shop near my university. After working there for a few years, we left and made our own business.”

Sopheap, a Norton University graduate, said they started the business because it took little time to learn and because they were able to start it right away.

Now her shop serves fresh sandwiches to mostly foreign customers and some Cambodians.

“My business is quite competitive.” says Sopheap, adding that the big amount of food shops in Phnom Penh triggers competition among each other.

But the youngest of six siblings plans to promote her shop through its own website and on Facebook. To attract foreign customers, she decorates it accordingly.

Sopheap usually makes more profit during Cambodian traditional festivals, such as Pchum Ben and Khmer New Year, when most other shops are closed.

Sopheap’s brothers and sisters are already married and follow their own careers. Her father left the family for another wife.

“I don’t miss him since he has left us. Now I live with my mum happily and I can support my family,” she said.

Sopheap believes Cambodians should accomplish what they dream to do. She dreams of serving food and drinks in a restaurant, enlarging her small shop and making it more diverse.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meas Chansatya at chansatya.meas@phnompenhpost.com

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