ASEAN Access
ASEAN Access

Enterprises in ASEAN often have limited information on how to access external markets and are not well aware of the issues related to international requirements. Lack of technical knowledge prevents these enterprises from participating in the Global Value Chain (GVC) and thus SMEs’ contribution to overall export numbers remains small. Providing information platforms can therefore play an important role in enhancing market access, both from the regional and international perspectives.

The ASEAN SME Web Portal ASEAN Access is intended to provide various information and other support for progress and improvement for SMEs to participate in the regional trade area. It will also serve as a “one-stop-shop” for SMEs in ASEAN who look to do business within the region beyond their country borders. Therefore, the web portal should serve as a tool for SMEs (and larger businesses) to access better information and services efficiently and effectively, while aiming to fulfill the aims as set by Strategic Action Plan on SME Development (SAPSMED​ 2016-2025).

What is ASEAN Access for?

ASEAN Access is an open and public portal. However, the full features of ASEAN Access are only accessible to registered users. Users can register as a User or as Service Provider depending on what they are looking for, and both register types are free of charge with difference features and benefit accordingly.

ASEAN Access can help you make an informed decision on selecting the right market for your product and company based on your location or target countries. ASEAN Access will point you to ASEAN focal points and service providers to facilitate your business and provide you with technical and proactive assistance.

ASEAN Access aims to promote ASEAN trade by providing SMEs with trade and market information, allowing service providers to list their businesses free of charge and enables distributors and agents to be easily found by SMEs wishing to enter particular ASEAN markets.

ASEAN Access aims to facilitate individual businesses wishing to trade and export their product beyond ASEAN. International trade, matchmaking, and business opportunities and a database of events are available in ASEAN Access, allowing business owners simply creating networks and market connectivity.

ASEAN Access allows you to browse various trade and business events in ASEAN, which can help you to increase your marketing and networking opportunities. Also, you can stay up to date on business and trade news from and about ASEAN.

ASEAN Access Offer Information on:
  • International market access
  • Trade in goods, Trade in services
  • Event calendar
  • Service provider databank
  • Trading beyond ASEAN
  • Online training

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ASEAN Focal Points

The market access database provides information to guide your business in ASEAN countries. To facilitate your company into new markets, you can get help from the ASEAN focal points simply called National SMEs support agencies that can provide you with market information and ASEAN sector brief with categorized search functions.

Particularly in Cambodia, the national focal points consist of five representatives from different organizations from the public as well as the private sector, namely the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation (MISTI), the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Cambodia (YEAC) and the Cambodia Women Entrepreneurs Association (CWEA).

Register Users

In order to fully enjoy all the offers of ASEAN Access, first and foremost, you should register, which is a very easy and quick process and free of charge.

A registration as User allows you to fully access the ASEAN Access web portal. You can browse all the information, resources, events and search for distributors, business matchmakers and other experts, that can assist with concrete tasks and challenges related to entering new markets. On the other hand, it allows you to download the countries profiles of the ASEAN Member States for your further information.

If you register as Service Provider, you are allowed full access to the ASEAN Access web portal too. You can browse all the information, resources, events and so on. In addition, you can offer your services in the Service Provider databank and increase your professional credibility and brand visibility through association with ASEAN Access.

Service providers are agencies, organizations, or units that provide or offer services or products to help or consult SMEs planning to enter into new markets and to run their business. In the ASEAN Access Service Provider databank, Service providers are grouped into two marketing sectors depending on their service offer: First, these are importers, distributors, and agents. Second, organizations providing business support. Those could be either public organizations or commercial entities including business matchmakers.

If you would like to find a service provider in Cambodia, you can filter the database based on countries and business categories, and you will see descriptions of each service provider’s expertise. In addition, you will see the service providers’ direct contact details and will be able to directly contact service providers.

For registration guide with ASEAN Access as Normal user, please click this link.
For registration guide with ASEAN Access as Service provider, please click this link.

Starting a Business

Do you dream of being independent and running your own business? Maybe you want to become your own boss? Or do you have a great solution to a problem you see in the world? If yes, becoming an entrepreneur might be right for you. However, starting a business isn’t easy and you need to be prepared for a long period of struggle until your enterprise starts to turn a profit. This section guides you on what you need to start a business as well as giving you advice to help you through this journey. There are also professional Service Providers who can help you through some of the steps or even through the complete setup process. Before you start, check if you’re ready:Starting a business requires effort and commitment. It’s important to know what’s involved and whether you’re actually well suited to business and self-employment. We recommend you first take some time to critically evaluate yourself and learn about the challenges of owning a business. Are you really ready to own your own business?Whether you’re starting a new business or buying an established one, you’ll need to be prepared. Consider these key areas to make sure you are ready. 2. Refine your idea Once you are certain you’re cut out for running your business, it’s time to review and refine your business idea. A great way to do this without diving directly into a lengthy and detailed business plan is to use a tool such as the Business Model Canvas. This gives you a single page snapshot of the key elements of your business and how they work together. You can find a free download here. The Business Model Canvas ensures that you start thinking about your mission and value proposition from the very beginning. You will need to think about and make notes about the following key areas: Customer segments:Who are your customers? Value proposition:What are your products or services? What problems are you solving for your customers? Revenue streams:Where does your income come from? Channels: How do you communicate with your customers? How do you deliver your goods or services? Key Activities:What do you do every day to run your business? Key Resources: Who are the people, the skills, the tools and the finances you need to run your business? Key partners:Who are your key partners in running your business? Cost Structure:What are your main costs? More information about this tool can be found here: Ngeay Ngeay also offers a free video course in Khmer to help you through the Business Model Canvas here. 3. Conduct research market To start and run a successful business you need to understand your customers and your target market. Market research can help you to understand and make informed decisions about the marketing of your products and services. There are different types of market research: primary and secondary. Primary research involves gathering information first-hand through surveys, interviews, and talking to (potential) customers and other businesses. Your research can be formal or informal. Secondary research uses information and data that has already been collected and analyzed by others. You can research your markets using information such as government statistics and trade publications. Evaluate your target audience A key purpose of market research is to get to know your target customers. You need to understand who is going to buy your product and why? What are their needs and pain points? How can you reach them? How do they make a decision to buy? Where will you find and how will you communicate with them? Research the competition and market saturation You need to know your competition, so you can beat them and prevent them from taking your customers. Remember competition is not always a bad thing; it means there is already a healthy market for your product or service and that customers are willing to pay. Learn as much as you can about how your competitors attract customers, what value they provide and anything they are missing. At the same time, check for market saturation. You may think that the coffee shop or the flower shop in your neighbourhood looks like a great business idea, because it seems to be flourishing, but you need to consider: are there enough customers for this type of business? Maybe the market is already saturated with numerous businesses offering similar products or services. If you want to enter an already crowded market, what will be your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? How will you stand out and be different? Will you have a more specialized service? A lower price? Something that no one else can offer? Simply copying another business or business idea is not a winning approach. You need to understand the market size and the portion of this you can potentially captur Validate your idea It’s a good idea at this stage to field test your idea, product or service. Speak to potential customers and get their feedback on your proposed product or service and see how interested they are in it and whether they would be willing to pay for it. You can do through by sending out surveys, talking to people in person or on social media, running ads or attempting a pre-sale campaign to gauge interest. Ngeay Ngeay also offers a free video course in Khmer to help you prepare a marketing strategy for your business here. 4. Write a business plan A business plan is a must if you are thinking of getting outside financing through a loan or investment. However, even if you are starting small and starting with your own funds, a business plan will help you to plan: how much money you’ll need to get started, how to get profitable, what you need to do and what the longer-term future looks like. Think of a business plan as a road map for your business, a tool to help you manage your goals and track your progress. If you’ve already developed a simple overview of your business, using a tool like the Business Model Canvas, this will be a great starting point for you. How formal or structured your business plan will be, will depend on whether you plan to use to raise funds or use only as an internal document. What goes into a formal business plan? There are different ways to structure a business plan, but most contain at least the following elements: Executive SummaryYour teamCompany overviewIndustry and Market AnalysisMarketing PlanOperational PlanFinancial Strategy A great way to get support in writing a business plan, check the list of training opportunities here. [link to training opportunities page] You can also seek support from the list of service providers here. [link to service providers page] There are also numerous websites that can provide you templates, guidance and advice on writing business plans. 5. Make your business legal To start and operate a business in Cambodia, you will need to get registered. The first step will be to review the different types of business structures and to decide which one is the best for you. You will also need to decide on a name and check if it is available. To help you decide, you should research the structures and pros and cons of the above types of businesses and select the one that is most suitable for you and your business. A good place to start is here. This site contains a table comparing the different registration types along with the benefits and drawbacks of each. Registration Steps and Requirements in Cambodia In Cambodia, you can register your new busines through the One Portal system here. This User [insert pdf download here] Guide from the Ministry of Economy and Finance is very useful to help you get prepared for this process. It includes an overview of how to use the system and the documents you will need to prepare for submission. The main steps in registering your business, whether you use the One Portal system, or a service provider are: Name Search and confirmationBusiness registration with the MOCTax registration with GDTDeclaration of opening with MoLVTLicensing and other requirements based on operations and industry. Read more about licensing here. [link to content on licenses]You may need to secure additional licenses and permits in order to have approval to do certain activities based on your type of business and industry. You can find more information on licenses and permits in the Business License section of this website.You may also choose to register a trademark. Registering a trademark can protect your brand assets, such as your business name or logo. To learn how to register a trademark, see the links below.EN_ Official Video Explanation on Online Trademark Filing System in CambodiaOfficial Portal to Trademark Registration in Cambodia If you have staff members you will also need to apply for National Social Security Fund (NSSF). You can learn more about NSSF and how to apply here. 6. Financing your business Whether you’re starting a business from scratch or buying an existing business or franchise, some approaches you may consider for funding: Fund your business yourself through self-fundingSecure venture capital from investorsUse crowdfundingGet a small business loanSmall and Medium Enterprises investment programsIt’s important to remember that investors such as business angels and venture capitalists may expect some level of existing self-funding or existing equity in the business in order to invest.You may also require financing for other areas of your business such as property, vehicles, machinery and tools, or inventory. There are different types of financing that may be available for you such as:A bank or MFI loanA line of creditLeasingTrade credit from suppliersLoansInvestmentsFor guidance on deciding which methods are the best for your business, you can find counselling services through our resource partner network (see Service Providers). 7. Preparation for operations As a registered entity, you will need to submit monthly and annual tax declarations to the General Department of Tax (GDT). To help you to do this, you will need support, at least initially, from a bookkeeper or accountant who has experience in this area. You will need to set up a well-organized filing system, prepare numbered receipts and invoice books, making sure you keep very detailed and careful copies of every transaction. This is in addition to setting up and using a system such as QuickBooks to keep track of income and expenses and so that you can create monthly, quarterly and annual financial reports. These are not only needed for reporting but also help you analyse your business and make best decisions for operations and growth. Even if you are starting small, correct and accurate financial record keeping is a must. If you are not planning to engage a full-time accountant, you can hire a service provider to help you with monthly submissions. 8. Prepare for growth As you begin your business, you will experience successes and set-backs. You need to see these as learning opportunities. With your Business Model Canvas or business plan in hand, you can re-evaluate and re-assess your strategy and plan for future growth based on experience. You should review your progress each month, looking at the numbers from the monthly accounting reports and reviewing your strategy. Repeating this quarterly and annually will allow you to track your performance and make decisions based on results and data in hand. This helps you to prepare for all types of situations before they arise, making sure you are ready for the ebbs and flows of the business.

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