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CambodiaTrade.Com digital marketplace launches

Brian Badzmierowski

Cambodia’s first national B2B2C e-marketplace, CambodiaTrade.Com, officially launched on Thursday following a ceremony at the Hyatt Regency featuring ministry and private sector representatives.

The marketplace is the result of a year-plus partnership with the Ministry of Commerce, Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), with supporting funding from the UNDP Cambodia and private sector funding.

The main goal of the marketplace is to provide a free-to-use platform for Cambodian SMEs and MSMEs to sell their products to both domestic and international markets.

Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak said the marketplace would strive to increase the sale of Cambodian products and help build a strong brand name for the country. It could also provide an avenue for attracting more foreign direct investment (FDI), he said.

Sorasak added that e-commerce has grown rapidly over the last five years, partly due to the country’s young population and increased use of the internet. He said he expects the trend to continue and plans for CambodiaTrade.com to increase competition for Cambodian products.

Given the success of prior projects with EIF, Sorasak said the institution viewed Cambodia as a valuable partner that can serve as a model for successful public-private partnerships for other least developed countries (LDCs).

CambodiaTrade.Com
CambodiaTrade.Com website.

Ratanakar Adhikari, the executive director of EIF, said e-commerce opportunities were amplified by Covid-19 and the sector will only continue to grow after the pandemic. Adhiri pointed out that the marketplace features fully integrated payment and logistics systems, something that will ease the transition for SMEs signing onto the platform.

To read about the Khmer Enterprise export market program click here.

Sven Callebaut, an international trade advisor to the Ministry of Commerce, said he was pleased to see the website come to fruition and hoped that it could serve as a vehicle to help SMEs access new markets and help grow revenue after businesses suffered through the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic hit us right when we started designing the marketplace, and we could not have imagined how e-commerce would become so prominent in our daily lives two years later. The marketplace’s initial ambition of offering a cheap, convenient, and user-friendly place for Cambodian SMEs to start selling Made-in-Cambodia products across borders using e-commerce is even more relevant now,” he said.

“Businesses selling to overseas clients have been unable to access new markets, so a cross-border e-commerce platform like CambodiaTrade.com can help them in their recovery,” he added.

Building out the website

The website currently has about 100 vendors listed selling products such as locally-produced food, makeup, clothes, accessories, and novelty items.

SMEs from the One Village One Product campaign are featured, reflecting the project’s desire to champion local resources and uplift local products.

One interesting feature on the site is the “Add to Quote” button, which allows buyers to request a lower price from the merchant. The merchant can choose to accept or reject the offer.

Monika Nowaczyk, the CEO of Beebee+Bongo, a company that sells locally-knitted toys and animals, successfully registered on the site and hopes to increase her domestic and regional sales. 

Nowacyk initially shied away from shipping her products from within Cambodia due to high-shipping prices for small items, opting instead to send bulk quantities to the US to ship from there. By utilizing CambodiaTrade.Com’s discounted shipping rates, she hopes to capture more of the regional market.

“We signed up to Cambodia Trade to be part of the first government-run marketplace, have access to easier, lower-cost shipping and processing for overseas orders, and increase our online visibility. As a small business, getting our brand on numerous marketplaces is important for SEO and brand building,” she said.

The hope is that once the program ends in June 2023, the marketplace will prove sustainable enough to thrive in the future. It would either be managed wholly by the public sector, the private sector, or through a public-private partnership (PPP).

Attendees of the CambodiaTrade.Com launch.

Sorasak used the Academy of Culinary Arts Cambodia, the first culinary school in Cambodia to offer an international diploma, as an example of past successful PPP projects in the country. The school started as a PPP initiative partially funded by EIF in 2016, with a public-private board of directors assuming ownership backed by donors when the project ended.

There are some challenges to consider with CambodiaTrade.com, Callebaut said. A lack of technical expertise within SMEs to export through e-commerce marketplaces as well as the complex nature of working with business service providers and fulfillment centres could prove to be obstacles in the future.

The Go4eCam project

CambodiaTrade.com is one piece of the wider Go4Ecam project initiated in July 2020. The project consists of four tracks with the broad goal of increasing the participation of Cambodian SMEs in the digital economy.

The first track is providing a marketplace through CambodiaTrade.com. The second track, entitled SMEs eBizNest, offers capacity-building workshops and small grant programs to prepare SMEs for digital marketplaces.

The third track aims to connect SMEs to funding through venture capitalists and other funding programs. It also aims to upgrade the Cambodia Post by developing Electronic Advance Data (EAD) to help improve trade facilitation.

The last track aims to compile and monitor data related to the project to ensure its efficiency and overall effectiveness.

The project has a total budget of $2.2 million. EIF contributed $1.5 million to the project, with government funding of $219,128. The UNDP contributed $212,000 and private sector partners contributed $265,500.

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