By Kim, Flint Lab Inc.
Interviewed on February 14, 2018
Mr. Sokun Sum of 'Fresh Innovation Cambodia'
It’s hard to believe that 12,000 of devastating deaths related to lung infections, heart attacks or strokes are occurred in Cambodia mainly because of people cooking on an open flame which is actually destructing the environment and binding people to live of grinding poverty.
Here we met a guy who is dedicating his life to solve some of the biggest frontline problems like health deterioration of the women and children especially by introducing the new innovative clean cooking solutions. Mr. Sokun Sum from FIC(Fresh Innovation Cambodia) is the hero for today's interview.
"FIC, a leading champion in Cambodian cookstove market"
▷ Hi Sokun, it's a pleasure to meet you here in Cambodia. Please introduce yourself to begin the interview.
Hi, I am Sokun Sum, a founder and a CEO of Fresh Innovation Cambodia(FIC). I have been here since 2015 and I am very excited to take lead in this clean cooking solution project.
▷ Can you also introduce FIC?
We have dedicated ten by providing business opportunity with clean cooking solutions, to improve their health and as well as generate incomes. We understand that it’s not just about providing a business opportunity. It’s more about giving back their dignity, providing comfort, improving lives, and offering empowerment so that they can strive for a brighter future.
Our Approach is in two ways. Firstly, we try to alleviate the poverty cycle by providing business opportunities, employment, healthier and environment-friendly cooking condition to women and the locals. Whole communities may benefit from increased household incomes. Secondly, we drive down the cost of products at an affordable price, making household access to the clean and safe cooking products, which improves their health and life quality.
▷ Considering the existing problems in Cambodia, what was your personal motive for starting the business? I first came up with an idea and then thought that it’s not just about business opportunity, but about giving people back with their human dignity, providing healthy comfortable condition and improving lives.
▷ What is FIC's current business model and can you tell us about the earlier or current business difficulties if you have?
FIC is franchise business, where we set up local dealerships and provide the support of the business-driven plan, manpower, and delivery service. We believe in FIC’s community education program to transform their lives, to generate and raise their income. Regarding detailed information, you may find on our website, freshinnovation.biz for details. To move to answer the next question, the most difficulties and challenges was the consumers’ financing program, which required the high investment that affects financial situation of the business.
Demonstrating a clean cookstove in the local community
▷ Then what changes did FIC make in Cambodia so far?
I think I can summarize these changes in three clear sentences. Firstly, over 8,000 families changed their lives into better way, by cooking with clean cookstove. Secondly, over 50% of the locals have saved on their energy expenditure for cooking everyday. Lastly, more than 200,000 villages received behavior change program from FIC Cambodia.
▷How is the current environment of Cambodia when founding a general start-up company or an environmental energy business.
There is no startup support, nor coaching program like South Korea. All start-ups rely on their capability and there is lack of support from both local and international organization in Cambodia.
▷ What are the reasons we should have more interest in Cambodian market as a foreign investor or an entrepreneur?
I believe that there are great investment opportunities in Cambodia. It’s because over 80% of people live in the rural area which is off-grid, hence most of the people live without access to energy. However, the infrastructure improvement is in its progress and large spaces are being built for scaling-up the business.
Mr.Sokun, presenting a clean cookstove
▷ What are your personal goal and enterprise's vision?
To be a global contributor, I hope to build a sustainable financial and social impact value from access to clean energy and clean cooking solution for everyone.