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Capitalising on Kandal’s upwardly mobile youth

Capitalising on Kandal’s upwardly mobile youth

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Phones for sale at Touch Bunwat´s shop in the centre of Takmao. Most customers buy phones that sell for less than $100. Photo by: Hector Bermejo

Phones for sale at Touch Bunwat´s shop in the centre of Takmao. Most customers buy phones that sell for less than $100. Photo by: Hector Bermejo

“OVER there is telephone town,” says Sin Chhin. ACLEDA Bank’s Kandal province branch manager indicates a small island of telephone shops surrounded by roads emanating from Takmao’s central roundabout.

“Most of our clients are gold sellers and mobile phone sellers,” he says. Takmao’s close proximity to the capital and relatively low land cost has made it an attractive proposition for traders and buyers alike.

Touch Bunwat, 28, runs one of the cluster of mobile phone shops by the roundabout. “All of my family opened telephone shops,” he says.

Like the other traders, he chose this site due to its good location.

“This is the telephone region of Takmao,” he says. “It is downtown, on the roundabout and on the way to the district.”

Touch Bunwat’s mother helped him set up the shop 10 years ago by lending him $7,000.

“With this money I bought about 30 new telephones,” he says.

Initially Touch Bunwat only sold new phones he bought direct from companies, but when customers came to exchange old phones for new ones, Touch Bunwat started to sell second-hand phones as well.

His father took out a further loan from ACLEDA Bank to buy new stock as well as to establish a guest house in Takmao.

“Since we borrowed money from ACLEDA Bank we have more capital so we can buy all types of models to meet the needs of our clients,” says Touch Bunwat.

However, business is not too good at the moment.

“There are a lot of telephone models and customers come to buy the cheaper phones,” he says. “Most sell for under $100. They like to buy cheaper ones because their salaries are lower after the financial crisis.”

According to Touch Bunwat, the Nokia 1282 is the most popular model.

“It has a torch and a radio,” he says. “And it only costs $21.”

Despite this, Touch Bunwat is confident about the future of his business.

“I think telephone selling will not go backwards, only forwards,” he says. “The technology now is more up-to-date and people want to use it.

“People who have less money buy cheap models and the people who have more money buy expensive ones.”

INTERPRETER: RANN REUY

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