Sorn Sokna, chairman of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC).
The Chairman of the ASEAN Business Awards, Oknha Sorn Sokna, says Cambodian companies will win ASEAN business awards for the first time this weekend at Sofitel.
The gala dinner tomorrow night promises to reveal three Cambodian companies as winners in the annual round of awards, organized by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC).
Cambodian businessman Sorn Sokna, who co-founded the Sokimex Group, serves as vice president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce. He is also founder and chairman of the Financial Institute of Cambodia (FIC) and Sonatra Securities, and Sonatra Microfinance.
He served as a judge for ASEAN Business Awards in 2010 in Hanoi and 2011 in Jakarta and is happy that Cambodia will have some business winners during the country’s ASEAN chairmanship.
“Previously in other countries we didn’t have Cambodian companies receive awards, but this year, I’m very happy that Cambodia is going to receive awards.”
During this year’s Cambodia chairmanship of ASEAN, accounting firm KPMG has been chosen as a strategic partner that carries out the evaluation work and holds the results until the winners are announced tomorrow night at Sofitel.
Last year in Jakarta, the firm of Ernst and Young evaluated the companies.
The awards are divided into large and medium sized companies, each with four categories of evaluation: growth, employees, innovation and social responsibility.
“For each company we look at human resources, activities, financial statements and management. So they see everything, compare them and score,” Sorn Sokna said.
This year, the ASEAN-BAC awards received a total of 186 nominations from the 10 ASEAN member countries.
Sorn Sokna said previously many Cambodian companies hesitated to be involved because they didn’t believe they could win any awards.
“I encouraged people to submit the applications,” he said.
Most Cambodian companies still hesitate to get involved because they feel like they don’t have the ability to win the award.
As part of the evaluation process, the nominated companies are visited and the management is interviewed.
“They see if the company is profitable or successful and they look at the potential in the future, the transparency of the company, and how they take care of their employees.”
Sorn Sokna said successful companies were involved in the development of the country and involved in society.
“We have to do business properly, take care of people, and make the ASEAN economy grow,” he said.
Sorn Sokna is optimistic about the benefits of regional integration in the ASEAN Economic Community, scheduled to take place in 2015.
“All the ASEAN governments promise to open by 2015 because we can reduce our costs and extend our business to other countries. I think it is good. Now Cambodian companies can go to other countries, and countries like Japan can come here and export from here to sell to other countries.”
He says Japanese companies, for example, want to set up factories in Cambodia.
“The purpose is to reduce their cost and then they can export from Cambodia to other countries. If we don’t have customs barriers it is good for them. They use our resources and then we can make money from them,” he said.
“If the Cambodian government provides a good business environment; if we make it easy for companies to do business here, they can sell to other countries. We will have more partners and more business, increasing employment.”
He said Cambodia offered investors from countries like Japan a lot of opportunity to do business. “Cambodia has a lot of natural resources, and the weather is good, suitable for agriculture. Not too cold.
''We have a lot of people eager to work and training is very important. If you do not have training, you cannot develop your country. Human resources are very important.”
Sorn Sokna said his policy was to recruit fresh graduates and train them in their jobs.
“They catch up very fast, and they try to work hard and learn and follow. If you provide them with a good environment, if the salary is a little different, they will not need to change jobs. People will stay with you if you continue to train them, not just one time, but continuously.”
He said at age 55, having worked hard for 30 years, he wants to be a bridge to bring more foreign investment into Cambodia, thereby increasing employment here.
“This is my mission. I want to work in the community to build up the next generation to help them get the skills and qualify them to be involved in the business community. I also want to be the bridge with foreign investors to make Cambodia grow fast.
''I want to give all my experience to others and be of service to other people,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Alan Becker at [email protected]