Empowering Cambodians: A Young Entrepreneur's Mission to Enhance Financial Skills

Pech Pong PonhaRith Pech Pong PonhaRith is the co-founder and managing partner of Kakcent, a personal finance platform. Photo provided

Financial knowledge is a crucial skill that many people should master. Lacking this skill can lead to problems, especially for young people. As the country continues to develop, young Cambodians find it increasingly challenging to manage their finances and become less confident in making daily financial decisions. Pech Pong PonhaRith, the co-founder and managing partner of Kakcent, a personal finance platform, and his team are dedicated to promoting financial literacy among Cambodians. Their goal is to help individuals tackle financial management challenges while improving their standards of living in our fast-changing society. In addition to his work in personal finance, this young entrepreneur has also co-founded and currently manages a digital marketing agency, TW Communication Co. Ltd (twd.). Sao Phal Niseiy interviews PonhaRith about his Kakcent journey and his future projects for promoting financial literacy.

Sao Phal Niseiy: You have created an online website named Kakcent, which is dedicated to promoting financial literacy and financial management. Why have you come up with this name Kakcent? 

Pech Pong PonhaRith: The name Kakcent has a special significance for us. It's a combination of words from our Cambodian currency history, where “Kak” was equivalent to 10 cents. In our culture, the term “kakcent” has always been used interchangeably in spoken language. However, what makes this name truly important is its resonance within our Cambodian heritage and upbringing. Our parents often emphasized the old saying that “a penny saved is a penny earned.” This saying has been ingrained in our minds since childhood, reminding us that every cent holds great importance in our lives. We chose the name “Kakcent” for our online platform because it symbolizes the core values of financial prudence, frugality, and the belief that even small savings can lead to significant financial growth. It's a name that not only reflects our mission but also carries a deep cultural and personal meaning for us.

Sao Phal Niseiy: Speaking of financial literacy, not many people here are knowledgeable about this issue. How do you see the current financial literacy among our people, and especially our youth?

Pech Pong PonhaRith: Financial literacy is a significant concern in Cambodia, particularly among our youth. Unfortunately, our school system has lacked financial education, and this gap became evident during the COVID-19 crisis when many people struggled with debt and financial management. Shockingly, about 82 percent of Cambodian adults are financially illiterate. Given our predominantly young population, this is a pressing issue. Kakcent was created to address this gap by acting as a media platform to help spread awareness for financial education. Our mission is to empower Cambodians, especially the young, with essential financial skills to make informed decisions and secure their financial future by collaborating with other related sectors from private to government. 

Sao Phal Niseiy: Why is it important to understand personal financial management?

Pech Pong PonhaRith:
For Cambodian people, understanding personal financial management is of paramount importance. Many individuals in Cambodia face financial challenges due to limited access to financial education. When individuals manage their finances effectively, they contribute to the overall economic stability and growth if we look at the big picture. Besides, financial-management skills can help lift people out of poverty, reduce income inequality, avoid high-interest debt, and achieve financial independence. There are also other factors for their future including education, healthcare, and retirement. So personal financial management is essential for the economic well-being of Cambodian people. 

Sao Phal Niseiy: There is a variety of contents your team produces every week. How is Kakcent generating contents that can be well liked by Cambodian people?

Pech Pong PonhaRith:
Kakcent produces engaging content for Cambodian people, particularly young people. Despite my lack of a finance background, my experience in media and marketing has been invaluable. Our approach involves making financial education both accessible and enjoyable. We create content that educates while entertaining, using creativity, storytelling, visuals, and interactive elements. Our diverse team, which includes editorial, creative and design professionals, ensures well-rounded content. We stay updated through market research and actively seek audience feedback for ongoing improvement. In essence, Kakcent combines creativity, audience understanding, diverse expertise, and continuous feedback to create content that resonates with Cambodian youth.

Sao Phal Niseiy: What are your strategies to attract a larger audience? 

Pech Pong PonhaRith: Attracting our audience presented its challenges initially, but we've taken several strategic steps to overcome them. Firstly, we've remained vigilant about staying updated with current trends. Collaboration has also played a pivotal role in our strategy. Partnering with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) has not only expanded our community but also broadened our reach.  Moreover, we've adopted a unique approach to accessibility. While digital platforms remain crucial, we recognize the importance of reaching individuals who don't have enough access to digital platforms. To address this, we've ventured into producing physical books, ensuring that our content is accessible to a wider demographic. This approach has been met with success, and we plan to continue expanding our physical presence to reach even more people in the countryside.

Sao Phal Niseiy: What are you planning to do to support the promotion of financial literacy among people in Cambodia?

Pech Pong PonhaRith: [Among] plans to further promote financial literacy among our people, we aim to create accessible tools, such as a Mobile Budgeting App, to help Cambodians access financial knowledge and put it into practice. Additionally, we plan to organize Money Festival Events to raise awareness and expand our outreach while expanding our community both on and offline.

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