By 2030, it is estimated that Cambodia will require 1.5 million new houses. The challenge? Not many in Cambodia will be able to afford these houses. The average price of a home in Phnom Penh is $42,000, which would take someone on an average income almost 70 years to save up. This is according to Kongngy Hav, the founder of My Dream Home.
Kongngy spotted this challenge after he returned from Australia with a good education and a good job, but still could not afford a house in Cambodia. When he reflected on this, he wondered about others in Cambodia who were not as fortunate and thought about how they could afford a house.
As a result, Kongngy has decided to start My Dream Home, a social enterprise that seeks to build more affordable houses for Cambodians.
Geeks in Cambodia speaks to Kongngy to find out more about this meaningful project.
The following interview has been edited for flow, clarity and length.
Can you tell us more about My Dream Home and what it does?
My dream home is a social enterprise that aims to address the lack of affordable homes in Cambodia though the production of affordable environmentally friendly, and easy to use bricks and concrete. This would allow people to build their own dream home. We target to account for at least 10% of the total units available in the Cambodian market.
What has the progress of My Dream Home been like?
My Dream Home is in its starting phase. It started selling in May 2015 and now, we have already built more than 50 houses!
We’re currently focusing on a combination of solutions that can bring down the costs of houses even more, while also trying to be environmentally friendly. This progress has been helped by the fact that we’ve been lucky enough to have volunteers from France and England to help design the houses. Some of these volunteers also have engineering backgrounds which really helps us.
What are some challenges “My Dream Home” faces?
There are many challenges that we face in order to get into the market. We need more collaborations with other companies and sectors to really enter the market. For example, we need to collaborate with the bank to get substantial loans with low interest rates.
Another problem we face is the rising land prices and if these prices do not drop, we need some capital to buy these pieces of land to build the houses on. To tackle these challenges, we’ve adopted several strategies including looking at collaborating with other companies for jobs like design.
On this note, it is also very fortunate that I have been supported by Impact Hub Phnom Penh to get connected to different innovators from Columbia, Japan and other countries who are able to contribute in different ways. These include providing affordable material or reaching out to get people to volunteer.
How has My Dream Home impacted Cambodian families and the housing system?
The way that it has impacted the Cambodian people is that it can reduce the price of houses by 20-40% and the material used to make it is more environmentally friendly as well.
The designs of the houses are also more modern and suited to the younger generation which is very different from the traditional houses which makes it much cooler.
What are your future plans for “My Dream Home”?
The goal is to provide more affordable houses for the less well to do people. By 2030, we hope to be able to contribute to 10% of the Cambodian housing market.
To do this, we are trying to collaborate with more western and local investors, in order to create a more affordable construction system. Also, we want to build a finished house to sell on the market.
Hopefully, this house will be fully furnished with a TV and furniture and other home appliances.
Finally, what advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs in Cambodia?
Firstly, have a goal in mind and be determined to reach that goal. Be willing to work hard because if its something you are passionate about, you should be able to work for 10 hours without tiring.
Secondly, start from what you have. Whether its money or a technical skill, which can come from a friend or family member, use that as a starting point and then connect to an NGO that is able to give advice, especially in the area of business orientation.
Thirdly, there is a really big opportunity with youths in Cambodia taking up a large part of the population. So predict what future trends and what future needs there maybe – whether it’s a trend in Cambodia or its a global trend and you’ll be able to find your sweet spot in the market.
Check out My Dream Hope on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mydreamhomekh/.