Mr. Khim Bunlene

Director / Co-Founder, Cambodian Framer Rice

Entrepreneur Profile:

Bunlene Khim, 28, was born to a local family of business people in Kompong Cham province. He grew up in a village close to Prey Toteong Market. After finishing high school in 2005, he went to Phnom Penh to pursue his studies and he completeAd a bachelor’s degree at Royal University of Law and Economics, graduating in 2009. Today, he is on the way to finishing his final term of Master of Entrepreneurship and Project Management at Royal University of Law and Economics and University of Lille and Lyon, in France.

For the past few years of his working career, Khim was an administrative assistant for Lion Group (Investment) from 2009 till 2012. Then he moved into the telecommunications industry as a sales support specialist for Beeline(Cambodia).

Because of his dream and ambition to become a successful businessman, in 2013 Khim and his friend established their own company to offer solar energy solutions to remote areas where there was no access to electricity. A year later, Khim’s team started a small microfinance firm called Grow Microfinance Association, to support all the clients of his solar business. “I would love to create and innovate businesses that solve people and social problems, that is my true success,” Khim said. “If it is really the problem, there must be solution, or it is not problem.”

He said “We were born as unique already, so follow the nature to stay different.”

In the same year, Khim’s team created a major business called Cambodian Farmer Rice with Khim as co-founder and general director. Beside his busy schedule, Khim spends time sharing his ideas to inspire the young generation to make their own business.

Business Profile:

Cambodian Farmer Rice (CFR) is one of the younger companies in the Kingdom, but with a clear vision and business strategy, it has the potential to make a huge contribution to the rice sector.

Khim, co-founder and general director of CFR, said the company was established in March 2014 and employed some 22 staff in order to supply good and reliable organic quality rice to customers.

“Since the beginning of business operation, our customer target is oriented to the households, restaurants/hotels, NGOs and shop/retailers for a monthly sale that reaches about 50 tonnes of milled rice,” he said.  CFR is in the growth stage of development since the company has begun turning a profit. The company is now ready to expand its business activities soon after developing marketing strategies.

“After one year of business operations, we have now 1500 households, 40 restaurants and hotels, 10 NGOs and companies and 10 retailers who keep purchasing from us regularly. We maintain our sales for about 50 tonnes of milled rice per month,” Khim added.

“To be successful in our business, we try to make clear business plans, we dare to do business, where some companies see problems, we see opportunity, and make something different,” Khim said.

CFR has reached this current stage thanks to their marketing mix strategy involving focus on products, services and quality control which helps make the company different, enabling them to challenge competitors in traditional markets. CFR’s products are selected from very reliable rice millers who follow the three stages of quality control process and produce a variety of rice. We distribute all types of rice, ranking from the most expensive to least expensive, he explained.

The company also focuses on promoting organic and good quality rice. Eighty percent of the company’s rice is export quality and 20 percent is local quality standard, meeting all ranges of demand. As for packaging, the rice is packed from 1 kilogram to 50 kilograms with an attractive branding design. We add PE plastic into all rice bags in order to keep and maintain the rice quality and prevent insects, he went on to say.

Value Added Services is also one of the company’s focuses, along with after sales services. For the pricing, CFR focuses on building the quality and brand of the business which means that price is set a bit higher than the market price. The average profit margin is between 5 percent to 15 percent, which is achieved by product based-pricing; customer-based pricing; and seasonal-based pricing.

Promotional campaigns are delivered through advertising and general communication, as well as direct sales to the clients. More than 50,000 leaflets, 100 posters and numerous banners and stickers are distributed around Phnom Penh every month by the company’s marketing and sales teams, tuk-tuk advertisers, and TV, radio, newspaper, magazine and newsletter advertisements. The company also has a website and a Facebook page promoting rice cooking events and presentations.

According to Khim, as a young company, “we face a lot of obstacles, but we have a clear vision to continue to strengthen our company”.

As a rice trader, CFR is aware of the difficulties that stakeholders encounter in the rice market, he went on to say. Nowadays, the rice industry in Cambodia is facing many issues such as the lack of information and transparency in the market, import dependency, low yield and high prices, lack of technical training and local farmers being unaware of market realities. But CFR is also aware of the role it can play in order to solve, or at least improve, those issues for the benefit of all. That is why Cambodian Farmer Rice dedicates time and money to enhance its social responsibility in the direction of the upstream market, he explained.

The firm has tried its best to apply a fair trade policy with organic farmers, with a contract including a purchasing price 20 percent higher than the market price. Moreover, the company keeps $0.25 per bag of 50 kilograms to invest in the organic project and the rice seed project which aims to distribute the right seeds to improve the farmers’ productivity and yield. On the downstream market, CFR focuses their activity on various social actors in Cambodia, such as NGOs or social enterprises, and supply them with special prices.

Khim went on to say that “the organic rice has the potential to be products for both exporter and local consumer”. There are over 3 million hectares of rice field in the Kingdom of Cambodia, including in the north and northeast provinces, which have numerous paddy rice fields able to produce natural rice products. Those provincial rice fields are free of chemicals and are the target rice resources for CFR.

In CFR’s daily activities, the company raises people’s awareness about the issues mentioned above and the power they have as the customer through their consumption choice. Within the company, CFR applies a fair policy to create a motivational working environment which can provide transparent and fair opportunities, working experiences, skills and benefits for everyone involved. CFR also aims to support the most disadvantaged people in society through punctual donation programs in schools and villages in need of clothing and school materials, Khim explained “We are a young company, but we do a lot for fair business and pay attention to social responsibility,” Khim added.