There’s a saying amongst expatriates in Cambodia: ‘if you want to make a small fortune in Cambodia, bring a large one.’ Despite the somewhat negative attitude amongst many locals towards operating a business in Cambodia, this small but rapidly developing country offers numerous opportunities for smart retirees.
Cambodia’s commercial sector is one that’s somewhat difficult to enter as a non-local, largely due to a huge amount of regulations. Without a stable job based in a major city or a full-time position as a teacher, acquiring a business visa can be an incredibly difficult and frustrating process.
Despite this, many foreigners choose to open businesses in Cambodia, spotting one of many opportunities in the country. Business visas can be acquired for those that work alongside a Cambodian company, of through employment at a local company or school in Cambodia.
Once a business visa has been acquired, setting up a business in Cambodia is fairly simple. Land is inexpensive to rent, albeit very difficult to buy as a foreign retiree, and salaries for locals are typically very affordable. Many expatriates and retirees living in Cambodia operate small businesses in major cities and tourist areas.
Examples of viable businesses for foreigners in Cambodia include Internet cafes, small restaurants and bakeries, and even bars and nightclubs. Many of the most popular restaurants and nightclubs in cities such as Phnom Penh and Siem Reap have been established and operated by foreign expatriates based in Cambodia.
There are several downsides to operating a business in Cambodia. Firstly, many businesses that are popular amongst foreign residents are saturated and tough to enter. Corruption, which is unfortunately rampant in many Cambodian cities, is a major factor that businesses – particularly in the nightlife sector – have to deal with.
Finally, navigating the country’s seemingly endless list of rules and regulations is a difficult process that can trouble even the most organized and motivated business guru. Cambodia’s international business sector is very young, and as such, most of the legislation that is depended on in the Western world simply isn’t there.
While opening a business in Cambodia can be a frustrating experience, it can also be very rewarding for smart, driven, and innovative people. From small shops to online businesses that bring in large amounts of revenue, Cambodia is home to a huge level of opportunity for smart, motivated, and risk-loving foreign retirees and expatriates.