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Cambodian-Americans Need To Think Bigger, Entrepreneur Says

Timothy Chhim, president of the Chamber of Commerce for Nanuet, New York.

WASHINGTON DC - Cambodians have been settling in the United States for decades now, yet there are few real success stories in business.

But there are exceptions, like Timothy Chhim, president of the Chamber of Commerce for Nanuet, New York, who recently visited Washington for a business conference. He told VOA Khmer in an interview that too many Cambodian immigrants fail to think big, take risks and go after what they want.

“If we think big and we think we want something, it makes us find a means to move from small to big steps,” he said. “I would appeal to Cambodians to thoroughly consider business [ownership]. If we only think that we’ll spend a lifetime working for hourly wages, we know we can’t get rich.”

Determination is the first step to success, he said. A plan helps too, and financial support. That could mean submiting a proposal to the Small Business Administration, or finding a loan from the bank through a proper business plan, he said.

“I don’t work for survival,” he said. “I have a big goal to achieve.”

That includes not working for five, 10 or even 20 dollars per hour. “So that’s why I own a business, for insurance of home, car, life or retirement,” he said.

Chhim, who has been president of his local Chamber of Commerce since 2011, said this has helped him establish business connections with professionals and local government representatives.

Businesses and government work together, he said. For example, business owners can request improvements to the city, which might help investment, he said. At the same time, the state needs the help of small businesses.

“We do what we can to promote the businesses in the community,” he said. “If these businesses improve, people in the community will live better lives, as well.”