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TV show preaches real-world business savvy

TV show preaches real-world business savvy

Though the challenges of small-business ownership are legion, Cambodian entrepreneurs

can get expert management advice by simply turning on the television.

Business Edge TV, a weekly Khmer-language television series that aims to educate

entrepreneurs on the fundamentals of business ownership, began its third season September

8 at its new home on the Cambodian Television Network (CTN). It airs Thursday nights

at 9:30 pm.

"In Cambodia, many people run small businesses with their family members,"

said Lili Sisombat, the show's executive producer. "But few [businesspeople]

ever had the opportunity to learn essential management skills."

Issues such as food safety in a restaurant, inventory control, and product promotion

have been dealt with in past episodes.

Business Edge TV debuted in 2003 on TV3 and is a production of the Mekong Private

Sector Development Facility. From the outset, the show's creators targeted the program

toward small-business owners with five or more paid employees.

"We aimed for companies that were somewhat structured and established,"

said Sisombat, adding that such businesses offer the majority of private-sector jobs

in the Kingdom.

Designed with the help of a CNBC producer in Hong Kong, Business Edge TV's fast-paced,

magazine-style format showcases typical Cambodian business owners in the workplace.

Each episode opens with a case study; one recent example involved a garage owner's

attempt to manage rising fuel costs. The majority of the show comprises a panel discussion

between two or three experts, including government officials, to discuss the entrepreneur's

problem and suggest solutions.

Business Edge TV's creators credit the show with bringing government officials closer

to the concerns of average entrepreneurs.

The program is the only one of its kind on Cambodian television, and it appears to

have struck a chord with many current - and perhaps future - business owners in the

Kingdom.

According to Nielsen Media Research ratings taken last year, the series doubled its

audience to nearly 30,000 viewers after the first season.

Although Business Edge TV squares off against soap operas and other entertainment

shows during its prime-time slot, it still manages to garner nearly 10 percent of

viewers between the ages of 20 and 30.

Cheng Kheng operates Cambodia Property Co. Ltd. and regularly watches the show.

"It makes me think about improvements I can make to my own business," he

said, adding that one particular episode about Mong Reththy Computer Shop and growth

management was particularly useful.

Ouk Ry appeared as an expert advisor on one of Business Edge TV's early episodes

involving a cake baker. As an attorney at Bou Nou Ouk and Partners, Ry says that

the program fills a void in the business arena.

"People in Cambodia often just jump straight into business without any training,"

he said. "Everyone wants to make a profit, but they need to understand how to

make their businesses better."

According to Sisombat, Business Edge TV's increasing popularity has made it easier

to recruit entrepreneurs to participate.

"In the beginning, [business owners] were afraid of kidnapping - going public

with [one's] wealth was a risk," she said.

Today the producer's biggest challenge is securing corporate sponsorship for the

show. Forte Insurance became Business Edge TV's first major sponsor this year, and

Sisombat hopes that other companies will follow.

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