Mengtry Sim’s medicinal balm has become a thriving micro-business.
Photo by: Hector Bermejo
IN a small shop close to the Prum border crossing, seven young men and women are sticking labels on small bottles before placing them in packing cases. They’re hurrying to meet a rush order.
“The client has ordered 4,800 bottles, which he will sell in Vietnam,” says Mengtry Sim, the founder of this micro-business.
The bottles contain Mengtry Sim’s own medicinal balm, called Khmer Mengtry Special Oil.
A mixture of menthol and eucalyptus, the balm is similar to tiger balm in that it can be applied to insect bites or inhaled to alleviate headaches.
There is one twist, however.
“It is made from Khmer herbs,” Mengtry Sim says. “The smell is different from other products.”
Mengtry, who has no formal medical training, stumbled upon his miracle cure while seriously ill in hospital.
“I had spent 28 months in hospital,” he says. “I had no energy at all. So I started to examine some herbs by myself.”
Mengtry went to Thailand, as well as all over Cambodia, to talk to experts in traditional medicine. He also studied every book he could find on the subject.
“I learned that my product is better than the others,” he says.
As well as the balm, Khmer Mengtry produces a roll-on and an inhaler. A small 5ml bottle of the balm costs 3,000 riel. “They all have the same ingredients,” he says.
Although he began marketing Khmer Mengtry Special Oil little more than a year ago, Mengtry Sim has already experienced great demand for his product.
At a recent expo organised by the US embassy, he sold about $250 of Khmer Mengtry within the space of two hours.
Mengtry Sim’s main problem is a lack of financial resources.
“Right now, we don’t have enough capital to produce enough to satisfy the market,” he says. “We have spent a lot of money to let people know about our product.”
Despite this, Mengtry is confid-ent about the future.
“I hope that I can become rich from my product, but right now it is difficult because we have limited capital,” he says.
INTERPRETER: RANN REUY