Harnessing the power of technology, the once exhausting task of shopping has now transformed into an effortless activity.

Facilitated by the rise of social media, particularly Facebook in Cambodia, online trading has become a vibrant sector of the nation’s commerce. Amidst this digital revolution, entrepreneurial spirits are flourishing, finding novel ways to boost their income and widen their business horizons.

Living in Sisophon town within Banteay Meanchey’s Kampong Svay commune, Sam Sopheak is a testament to this burgeoning trend. The enterprising young man is the brains behind “Khmer Rattan Lovers”, an online business specialising in handmade Cambodian crafts that serves a dual purpose: sustaining community livelihoods and preserving traditional artisanship.

Sopheak’s venture, launched amidst the Covid-19 turbulence of 2020, found its roots not in commerce but in compassionate intent.

“I wasn’t a trader, but the pandemic pushed me to explore online business. I wanted to help my fellow artisans in Siem Reap find a wider audience for their exquisite work,” Sopheak recounts.

Turning adversity into opportunity, Sopheak saw a potential goldmine in selling the community’s handmade baskets online.

“The hardship was palpable. I just wanted to help my community survive,” he remembers.

Today, the online marketplace rewards him with encouraging returns, seeing purchases from community members rise to thousands of dollars for online resale.

The modest beginning of Sopheak’s business saw him investing between $100 and $200. As the popularity of his online store increased, the entrepreneur now purchases products worth $4,000 to $5,000 at a time.

“It was a small start, but the growing demand needed substantial capital,” he says.

At “Khmer Rattan Lovers”, customers are enticed by an assortment of traditional handicrafts woven from organic materials such as rattan, bamboo, and leaves. From fashionable rattan baskets to bins, these eco-friendly products are bought from the Siem Reap communities and sold for as little as $3 or $4 a piece.

Sale volumes fluctuate with the seasons and festivals, sometimes generating daily revenues between $500 and $1,000 in high seasons and between $200 and $300 during quieter periods. Sopheak attributes these lucrative returns to his wholesale customers. He also attributes the popularity of his online shop to his fair exchange policy which allows unsatisfied customers to return products for a full refund.

Despite operating primarily online, Sopheak maintains a physical storage room at his house. He views product delivery as a minor challenge, thanks to the proliferation of transport and delivery companies.

“My only concern is to package products attractively and securely,” Sopheak says with a confident smile.