Youth of the week: Kouch Sokly

Youth of the week: Kouch Sokly

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Kouch Sokly. Photograph: Phnom Penh Post

Do you love drinking coffee at the café T&C, or hanging out  with friends at Pizza World and BB World? Would you believe that those places were made by a young guy?

At the age of 35, Kouch Sokly has changed his life dramatically. The third child of a bakery owner in Phnom Penh has become a highly successful businessman: the managing director of Cambodia Best Meal Company (CBM) which owns restaurants, bakeries and cafes in the city.

Besides T&C, Pizza World and BB world, Sokly also manages Tous les Jours bakery, Khmer Food Restaurant and The Asian Kitchen.

His working life started at 17, when Sokly quit his school and became a tour guide in Phnom Penh.

“Quitting study at that time was not because of my parents could not afford for my study, but because I wanted to make some achievements in my life,” he said.

He added that his mother did not really agree with his decision at first, but he won her over and she and his family began to support him.

His time as a tour guide did not last long.

Sokly and one of his colleagues decided to open their own business. He and his friend put in $500 each  to begin with and the business became so successful that Sokly could afford to open new businesses: BB World and T&C café.

Some people told him it was impossible. Cambodian people at the time knew only small coffee shops that sold coffee for 1000 to 2000 riel per cup and he decided to open a shop where coffee costs a dollar but comes with air conditioning and Wi-FI, he said.

Sokly did not take heed of his critics and went by the mantra: “If we go one step before the others, we will have more luck than the others, if the time is right.”

His business became so successful he opened Pizza World and Khmer Village. Recently he opened a new bakery: Tous les Jours and told Lift that he would open The Asian Kitchen.

The first time he started running a business, handling the finances was the biggest challenge, Sokly said. Fortunately his work was successful enough to keep the money flowing in.  

“When I was stuck with a problem, I often told myself that every obstacle is a lesson and experience. For me, facing a problem and solving it is like being presented with a question and answering it.”

Despite being busy running his businesses, Sokly still actively contributes to the society. He profits from business, but also spends his money funding education institutes that need support.

He has also been elected as the National President of Junior Chamber International Cambodia.

“Though I stand high, others are still left poor at the bottom, so my position has no meaning. I would like to work to improve our society.

“First I want to open a school that can improve the education system in Cambodia and put the profits from that towards helping poor students. My other big dream is to open a hospital that could make Cambodian people’s health better and better.”

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