Lendahand Blog


Entrepreneur in the spots: Kheng and Bunkhoeung

Have you ever wondered why people in third world countries retreive plastic from trash cans? Talking with Kheng and Bunkhoeung I got the answer to that question. Their entire house consists of one large pile of separated garbage. Their house? Yes, they are sleeping on the loft above. It takes me a while to realize it, but the conversation with Bunkhoeung has already started happily. It turns out to be a very happy family. It gets you excited!

Export to Vietnam

Kheng and Bunkhoeung collect glass, plastic, paper, iron, aluminum and other metal, squeeze the separated waste into small packages packages and transport them to Vietnam. About 30 to 40 families in the area collect the waste and sell it to them. For a kilo of plastic they pay € 0.20. The price for one kilo of iron is the same. They sell the seperated garbage in Vietnam with around 10% to 20% profit. Every month they save up 50 to 60 tons of waste, so it definitely makes good money. Each month they have about $ 1,200, after which they still have to repay a piece of the loan.

From the current loan of $ 12,000 they bought a truck. Previously, they rented one, but that cost $ 200 a time, and they drove to Vietnam three or four times a month. So, buying was a good investment! Unfortunately, the truck was not in good condition, so they sold it again and are still looking for a good replacement.

History is a curse and a blessing

The branch manager with whom I am visiting, tells me that Bunkhoeung speaks with a strong Vietnamese accent. I asked why Bunkhoueng came to Cambodia, not realizing what question I had asked. I suddenly remember that Bunkhoeung was born in 1975, the year that Pol Pot and the Red Khmer took over power in Cambodia. Many Cambodians have not survived this period or fled Cambodia. For example, to Vietnam ... 

I decide not to ask any further because there seems to be too big a taboo on this subject. From a positive note, Kheng and Bunkhoeung have been able to make something good from this history. Their business benefits from Bunkhoeung's contacts in Vietnam. I realize even more how infectiously their generous laughter and happiness are. Of course, I also go on a picture with them, because according to Kheng, I bring joy by visiting their company. It gives me goose bumps! 

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This blog was written by Thomas Maas, who visited a number of local partners and entrepreneurs during his world trip.

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