Thaung Thyda, a young female entrepreneur from Cambodia, founded Thaung Enterprise, a business that promotes the natural salt products of Kampot province.
Thyda hopes that her success story of starting this local community enterprise will inspire young Cambodians, especially females, to dream big and seize the opportunity to start their own businesses and reach the international market, thus enhancing Cambodia’s reputation.
Thyda is a lecturer of International Business at NUM International College and serves as the Terra-Madre delegate from Cambodia for the Slow Food Foundation. In addition, she recently won the 2018 Cambodia Young Women Entrepreneur Awards and was also the second-place winner in the 2020 National Entrepreneurship Awards.
Thaung Enterprise is owned solely by Thyda, with her team providing support, and employs a workforce where 80% are women. The enterprise’s purpose, according to Thyda, is to improve the community’s lives and connect salt producers to both local and international markets. Originally her family’s business, Thaung Enterprise was established in 2016 and currently covers 300 hectares of land, working alongside 27 families. Thyda places special emphasis on the quality of raw materials, ensuring nutritional value and food safety for consumers. The enterprise’s products are currently sold not only in the local market but also abroad. According to Thyda, the enterprise can produce 50,000 tons of salt annually.
Thyda obtained her diploma in France and earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from the Royal University of Law and Economics. During her childhood, she aspired to be a scientist and had never considered becoming a businesswoman. However, after studying abroad, new ideas and aspirations sparked in her mind. She began to contemplate how she could assist her community of sea salt farmers, who received little compensation for the superior products they produced. Thyda had the desire to establish a business that would benefit the farmers and also promote Cambodia’s salt products globally.
Thyda drew inspiration from her family, who were salt farmers themselves. Despite this, her family did not initially support her when she decided to start her salt farm business as it did not generate any income during its initial stages. They advised her to abandon the idea. During this period, she had to personally deliver products to customers and faced many difficulties, causing her to almost give up. Additionally, Thyda faced the challenge of educating the farmers on the quality standards for salt so that they could be exported internationally. Through numerous meetings and discussions, the farmers eventually understood the complicated process, which they were previously unaccustomed to. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the challenge for Thyda’s enterprise as it impeded the sale of products both domestically and internationally.
Thyda has successfully overcome all obstacles and earned the trust of the farmers, encouragement from her family, and backing from local and international customers. To introduce salt products to the global market, Thyda emphasized the need to prioritize quality control to meet standards and conduct research on the international market to identify target consumers. Thyda’s supply chain system is a blend of both traditional and modern methods.