Twenty-seven-year-old Eu Pech saw his own failures as an opportunity. Eu dropped out of high school during Grade 11 after a traffic accident. Since then, he has started a clothing store and a coffee shop, but didn’t find success in either.
To educate ambitious entrepreneurs like himself, he has opened a new café providing young Cambodians a place to study business tactics.
President Inspiring Library Café, located at the corner of Norodom Bouelevard and Street 136, opened last December. It’s a comfortable and cosy spot for readers and a potential place for networking. Its library has over 400 books related to entrepreneurship.
“When we think of Phnom Penh, we will think of businesses and opportunities,” said Eu. “The main purpose [of the café] is to instill and improve the reading culture in Cambodia as well as to help reduce poverty in the country.
“We can do this by offering potential entrepreneurs a place to learn how to start up their businesses,” he says.
As far as Ouk Sreynich, who works at the café, knows, this is the first library café in a town where not many people take an interest in reading.
Still, she sees the café as part of Pech’s mission to provide people a space “to develop themselves, their younger generation and their country”.
Eng Sovansuchhing patronised the café recently. The 19-year-old student says: “I like reading these kinds of books because I can learn from the success and failure of others.
“I believe what I can learn from the books here can help me avoid some of the pitfalls that others have experienced . . . I can prevent myself making the same mistake,” she said.
Another young student, 17-year-old Kim Sodalin, was on her laptop doing schoolwork at the café. She also patronises the place to read books for motivation as she intends to run her own business in the future.
Book lovers can spend as much time as they like reading at the café, with coffee and other snacks on offer at modest prices. They can also buy books or order specific ones through the store. Pech insists that they do not mark up the book prices, nor sell them as second-hand ones.
In addition to running the café, Pech also arranges a monthly trip to the Coconut School, founded by one Ouk Vandy who teaches English and computer skills. He also sells recycled items to poor children in Koh Dach and Kirirom.
He uses the shop’s profit to cover the food and transportation costs for participants who can be anyone interested in helping the school.
Above all, Pech hopes that soon, he will be able to expand, both the physical location and the book collection to benefit more readers.
“In the future I want to transform the café into one of the biggest private libraries in Phnom Penh.
“I am keen to focus mainly on entrepreneurship by helping individuals who wish to improve their leadership abilities regardless of age,” he said.
President Inspiring Library Café is located on Street 136. It is open every day from 7am until 8pm.