Alex Odom Chief Investment Officer of Belt Road Capital Management (BRCM) spoke to The Post’s Cheng Sokhorng and gave an overview of the current investment in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Cambodia as well as its purpose. BRCM recently acquired a 40 per cent stake in Cambodian digital publishing and entertainment group Sabay Digital Corporation, while earlier this year, it also invested with Realestate.com.kh.
When was Belt Road established? Where is the capital coming from?
The company was founded in the middle of last year. The primary business objective is to provide professional financial management services for those seeking investment opportunities in the Mekong Region. Our investors are high net-worth individuals in the Asia Pacific.
How does Belt Road cooperate or help to promote local SMEs?
Our first fund is targeted at SMEs. We partner with promising SMEs in the Mekong region, including Cambodia, to support the achievement of strategic goals, facilitate sustainable growth and expand access to new markets for these companies.
In Cambodia, BRCM first invested in Digital Classifieds Group, the online firm behind Cambodia’s leading real estate website Realestate.com.kh. The capital was used to further grow operations in Cambodia as well as expand business in other regional markets.
More recently, BRCM invested in one of Cambodia’s most renowned tech companies, Sabay Digital Corporation (Sabay). The investment was to further enhance internal game development through their gaming studio arm, Sabay Osja, as well as to bring in more international gaming titles to the Kingdom of Cambodia.
What kind of potential business are you focusing on and why?
We see a lot of value in tech-enabled and platform-based businesses for the moment. Our current investment portfolio obviously reflects that investment strategy. However, that being said, we are sector agnostic and have been looking at opportunities from healthcare to logistics and education.
Regarding the quality of potential investee companies, we look for those with strong leadership teams and two years or more of operating history. They should have viable and strong growth plans, typically operating in sectors with proven and tested business models.
How do you view the development of SMEs in Cambodia?
There has been an overall increase in the number of SMEs in the region, including Cambodia, which is a positive sign of economic development.
In Cambodia, we are seeing more SMEs seeking investment capital. Often these businesses are locally owned and managed. The companies range across a wide variety of sectors.
How much funding have you pumped into SMEs so far?
To date, we have deployed around $20 million in investment capital in the region, with deals ranging from $2 million to $7 million. Like the two Cambodia-based businesses that we have invested in – Sabay and Realesate.com.kh – we hope to see more investments of this type in Cambodia and are actively searching.
Do you have any other plans?
Next year, we plan to raise a second investment vehicle with a similar focus on private equity investments in the Mekong region. We are also exploring larger investment activities in the real estate and infrastructure sectors.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.