Project Everest

Work Update

SoCon Cambodia Week #3

Sruthi Sodum
Sruthi Sodum | Jul 20, 2018 | in Knowledge Base

This week in Cambodia SoCon we started of by speaking to street vendors in the Night Market (the most popular tourist location) to test our assumptions and also do some offer testing. This time around when we empathised, we wanted to have more structure, so we stuck to one particular type of small business (street food carts). We used the help of a translator and were able to speak to 10 such members in order to better identify similarities and patterns in our limited ability to collect substantial data.


→ Translator

PROs: Easier to approach people; able to extract information

CONs: Harder to empathise (engage with their emotion); information/statistics MIGHT lose in translation (translator doesn’t understand the much of the financial concepts and doesn’t have good “empathising” skills).


Few Things We Learnt (Night Market: Street Vendors)

  1. Most people under 35-40 years of age have smartphones and use Facebook and YouTube.

  2. They all want to improve their businesses. (buy more fruit, better their products etc.)

  3. People are not interested in loans. They don’t like the idea of giving away their hard earned income through the form of high interest rates.

  4. They are afraid that if they borrow a loan, they won’t be able to meet their monthly repayments.

  5. Income stream over the course of a year fluctuates because their incomes are heavily reliant on tourist seasons.

  6. Offer Test: People were interested in short educational YouTube videos to help improve their businesses (they were particularly interested in learning how to market better in order to attract more customers). [HOWEVER, we didn’t put a price on this offer]

  7. Internet Banking isn’t prevalent. People don’t check their account balances online; this seemed to be because banks don’t have very good digital platforms.

  8. People don’t save, not because they don’t want to, but because they don’t make enough to keep any of it aside → thereby greatly reducing the necessity to have an open bank account.


∴ Street vendors want to improve their business situation but are unwilling to access loans due to a lack of financial literacy.


We have empathised extensively in the Siem Reap city region by this stage. In order to get a wholesome view, we decided to go out into the outskirts to the small town of Puok which wasn’t reliant on tourism. Puok was an eye opening experience.


Few Things We Learnt (Small Town: Puok)

  1. Many people were content with their simple life, and didn’t want to expand or change their practices.

  2. However some were interested in buying new machinery (e.g. washing machine at a laundry) and better inventory (e.g. flowers at a plant shop).

  3. Most people used their savings to set up a business, and then borrowed money from the bank to start building their house → using their proceeds from their business to pay back their loans.

  4. Most people don’t have bank accounts/WingMoney or TrueMoney accounts. In order to transfer money to far away locations, they prefer to go to a shop-front instead of using digital platforms.

  5. More people had approached banks for loans, than the street vendors in the city. But these businesses were also more established so we can’t draw parallels in that regard.

    1. An example loan looked like: Borrowed $15000 (duration 4 years, payment $495 per month in the first month).


Ongoing Thoughts

1. How do we identify our early adopters? 

- For financial services 
- For business/financial educational services

2. Could it be the case that there are no early adopters for a new microfinancing product?

- But, surely, even if no one indicates that they have a need or want that they are actively looking to satiate and willing to pay for a product. For example, if a product was good enough, would people come forth to adopt it regardless?

Andrew Vild Aug 13, 2018

Status label added: Work Update

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