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  • Writer's pictureSovanpidor Ham

Growing a Family Business GenZ Style: Chakriya’s Story

Published on Sep 24, 2021

We often see frequent comparisons in the media between two generations of people: Millennials and GenZ people. Most comparisons point out how different these two generations are in terms of communication, thinking, and basically the way they run their lives. Bringing these two generations to work together can be quite a challenge. The result is either a disaster or a “blaster” (something that falls apart). Chakriya, a twenty year-old Cambodian daughter from a family of farmers, knows all about the latter.

Born and raised in Kampong Cham province in a family whose livelihoods have relied on agriculture for generations, Chakriya was always told to study hard and to work to ‘get away from this farm life’. Farming life was very challenging for her family, and Chakriya’s parents wanted to support her to access new educational opportunities. Decades ago, her parents raised fruits and vegetables, and then expanded their business to raise bees on the farm in Koh Soten, Kampong Cham. Chakriya has always wanted to help her family business grow but she has never had a chance to help because she didn’t know how to access essential business skills training or mentoring.

Two years ago, Chakriya went to Phnom Penh to pursue her Bachelor Degree in Food Science and Technology. Being in the city enabled Chakriya to explore more and do more of what she loved while at the same time she always kept her family in her mind. During her journey, she volunteered and got involved in social projects, some of which used social media to connect and engage new audiences. Before hearing about InSTEDD’s training, an innovative pilot project run in coordination with DAI’s Digital Asia Accelerator, a USAID-funded project, she ran a Facebook Page with her friend to support a digital book charity campaign that collected more than 3,000 books for the community. The campaign experience helped her grow her interest in communications and the social media scene.

As she explored how to work with different social media channels through the charity campaign, Chakriya finally found the answer to how she could best help her family business. Specifically, she selected her family’s honey business run by her dad and her uncle because she has heard that they want to scale up the business online in response to the current outbreak of Covid19. Her uncle had started a Facebook Page called Red Bee in January this year, but it had not yet helped him increase sales or online engagement with customers.

At first, Chakriya reported that although she had experience managing a campaign and Facebook page for charity purposes, she was not confident doing it for business purposes. The challenge stood right in front of Chakriya when she agreed to take over the page from her uncle. She knew she needed guidance.

In March 2021, she came across the announcement on Facebook of the InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia’s “SMEs/MSMEs Digital Upskill Program” and she applied right away. Once she was selected, she then spent two days attending the training on digital marketing, storytelling and online safety. After the training, she participated in weekly one-on-one coaching sessions.

Due to a Covid-19 outbreak, all of the training and mentoring sessions were conducted online via Google meet, Zoom, or sometimes through phone calls.

After the sessions, Chakriya reflected that she learned a lot of valuable lessons from this course, and the most useful lesson was how to identify stories and content ideas and turn them into engaging pictures using open resources like Canva, which was introduced to her during the course. According to Chakriya, this tool was so simple and so useful. She is still using it to manage the Red Bee page today, even after the training.

After the coaching sessions with InSTEDD’s coach Pidor, Chakriya said, “I have never thought of those storytelling ideas before until we started to work together”. One thing that Chakriya said was unique about InSTEDD’s activity was that the training and coaching was very motivating, and this kept her going.

Throughout the training, Chakriya has kept her family in the loop, explaining to them her plan of expanding the business by using an online platform. She was in close communication with them getting the raw social media material for polishing. Today, the Red Bee Facebook page is more active and creative than ever. “I got quite an engagement from the public that I have never had before. We also have received some orders”, said Chakriya with a little chuckle in her voice.

Before the training, she had almost no engagement. After applying the lessons, she has gained around 40-50 new followers, and the number keeps growing.

Chakriya and her parents have found a great balance: she manages the digital footprint, and they cultivate great products.

This is an example of her content before and after joining the training.

Before the training

After the Training

In the future, Chakriya plans to balance her schooling and work life, and to keep the Red Bee page more active and produce regular content. She plans to use lessons from the InSTEDD training, and her work with community-focused social media campaigns, to help boost her family’s business today, and every day in the future. She is now maintaining the engagement on the page until her family produces enough honey to keep up with the offline and online sales. Chakriya is both the proud daughter from a farming family and a smart GenZ citizen who utilizes digital tools to advance her family’s business.

Only time can tell how far their online journey can go.

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