The Business Networking Reception was hosted at Hard Rock Cafe in Phnom Penh on February 23, 2023.
The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (IndoCham) and the Singaporean Business Investment Forum (SBIF) co-hosted an inaugural Business Networking Reception to provide an update on reciprocal visits from Indonesia and the formal introduction of the SBIF and its goals.
The by-invitation only event, which was organised by in-market business consultancy AquariiBD with the support of Khmer Enterprise, also recapped the business outcomes and successes from the AquariiBD delegation visit and seminar held in Indonesia last year, as well as plans for more collaborative events and opportunities to promote Cambodia on an internal scale in 2023.
Speaking on the night, Aquarii CEO Mr. Michael Tan said that when they were first asked to help organize the reception, the aim was for the participation of around 60 guests and to ensure as diverse a group as possible, beyond the members of the hosting chambers and usual business attendees.
Aquarii CEO Mr. Michael Tan.
“Not only did we achieve our goal, but we more than doubled it. We registered a total of 135 sign-ups and of the total participating guests, around 60% are not members of IndoCham or SBIF, with over 40% of the total sign-ups being Cambodian professionals/businesses.”
“I would therefore like to thank all of you for the tremendous turnout, to IndoCham and SBIF for their confidence in Aquarii to organize the event”, he said. He added that “this would not have been possible without the generous support of Khmer Enterprise”. Michael also acknowledged Hanuman for sponsoring the beer for the event.
A series of interesting opportunities in 2023
Speaking on business updates, Michael said that as CEO of Aquarii – the official advisor to IndoCham –there will be a series of interesting opportunities in 2023 in which attendees can get involved.
“Some of you may be aware that we had mounted a business delegation visit to Indonesia in 2022 where we conducted an in-country seminar that was attended by 81 Indonesian business personalities. The 33-member delegation from Cambodia comprised not only Cambodian businesses and personalities but also foreign companies established in Cambodia and from the feedback we have received, 3 delegations from Indonesia – eco-tourism, retail, and manufacturing – are keen to visit Cambodia this year”.
He said that this shows that raising awareness of Cambodia is a necessary step to elicit interest from foreign businesses and investors.
“There is still a gap in awareness of the potential and opportunities in the Kingdom, and a deficit in trust or confidence of foreign businesses and investors when considering the Cambodian market. Creating touch points and points of contact have proved to be effective and we also learned that having a delegation whose composition is largely private-sector and a more discreet government involvement worked best.”
IndoCham and SBIF Business Networking Reception.
Mr. Tan ended with an announcement of the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) which will be held in Abu Dhabi, UAE in May this year. Aquarii and KE have been exploring the idea of replicating the success of the Jakarta visit in Oct 2022 by organizing a mixed delegation comprising Cambodian and foreign businesses operating in Cambodia to Abu Dhabi.
“Just last year, the AIM in Dubai attracted participation from more than 140 countries. If we could organize ourselves to participate as a collective Cambodia contingent, we can ride on the economies of scale, offer greater diversity, and a more convincing narrative as to why investors at the AIM event should seriously consider the potential and opportunities in the Kingdom.”
“We are currently working out more details on this joint effort between KE and Aquarii. Michael encouraged interested businesses to register their interest with Aquarii.
Newly formed Singapore Business and Investment Forum
Also speaking on the night, Mr. Albert Tan, President of the newly formed SBIF and Deputy Chairman of TAFTAC said that SBIF is a unique business group created over coffee by Mr. Ong, Mr. David Sim, Mr. George Yeh, and himself.
“Each of us had been in Cambodia for the past 25 years or more and with our abundance in knowledge over the years in Cambodia. We would like to share our knowledge and support the Singapore business community. We also manage to rope in younger members with more resources to support SBIF, Mr. Edward Lee, Tan Wee Pin and Kelvin Chua, Zech Chai.”
He noted that the SBIF does not aim to be a replacement of Singapore Club Cambodia (SCC), adding that the SCC will continue to play an important role in social and community service to Singapore families here.
Mr. Albert Tan, President of the newly formed SBIF and Deputy Chairman of TAFTAC.
“SCC serves as an Official representative and works closely with the Singapore govt. agencies to support oversea Citizen & PR. Work with Singapore Embassy to strengthen Singaporean bond through SCC event.”
“SBIF’s objective is to provide support and update on current Government policy and investment in Cambodia. To provide relevant information and network for Singapore Investor to Cambodia.”
“Our focus is Business networking, Business matching, Investment opportunity, Investment update, Inter Business Chamber networking, Trade Information, Govt Roadmap, Investment Law, and Ministries regulation update.”
Private and public sectors working together
He said the SBIF will work closely with Ministries and Government organizations to provide seminars and workshops to the Singapore business community to better understand Government policies and economic changes.
“We will work to set up the SBIF office for meetings, networking, and business information update.” Talking about the effects of the pandemic, he said that most businesses came to a halt and different priorities emerged.
“As such Singapore’s brand presence had started to erode. It would be an injustice to neglect Singapore’s strong brand in Cambodia which was built in the past years by all the Singaporeans who came to Cambodia. Now we have to reignite Singapore Brand and present in Cambodia after the pandemic.”
Cambodia Investment Review attended the event as a trusted media partner.
“I am very happy that Dalton Wong had agreed with SBIF to co-host this evening’s business networking. This has given SBIF an opportunity to start our 1st business networking and our initial step to reigniting Singapore Branding,” he added.
Mr Dalton Wong, President of IndoCham and Chairman and Founder of Speedwind Distributions, added that the event represents a great opportunity for collaboration going forward.
“This Business Networking Reception sets the scene for how international chambers and regional business organizations can work together to put Cambodia on the map as a place for foreign business and investment.”