Update: As the wet season moves into Cambodia, there is less tourist work for tuk tuk drivers, but we have had some updates from Danny that he is also picking up some work at the hotel he drives for too, which is really great way to supplement the lower demand for tourists. Danny sent some more photos as well one of his amazing family in Kampong Cham and some of the tourists he has worked for recently.
As a small business owners in Australia, we have always tried to give back to the community whenever possible. It’s not always easy, but whether it’s donating custom fire pits for local charity fundraising or sponsoring the local footy teams as a business we have always endeavoured to do as much good as we can afford to do.
Meet Mr Danny
During a recent family trip to Siem Reap in Cambodia, we had the opportunity to meet a wonderful man named Danny, our Siem Reap tuk-tuk driver and tour guide for the week. His enthusiasm for giving us the best experience made our time in Cambodia unforgettable, especially our day trips around the city and to the incredible temples at Angkor Wat.
During our time with Danny, we learned more about his life, family, business, and the challenges of operating in such a competitive environment. Since the pandemic, the decline in tourism has been devastating to the transport industry in Cambodia. A lower volume of visitors has made it tough to find customers, especially in the wet season.
Running a tuk tuk business
Along with these challenges, the costs of running a tuk-tuk business are also scaling with the cost of everything else on the planet. Licensing, maintenance and fuel prices are all increasing, just like they are here in Australia.
After returning from a trip one night, we also learned that in most cases, tuk-tuk drivers often don’t own their vehicles, and renting these for a monthly fee is very common. In Danny’s case, the rental payments of his tuk-tuk were close to one-quarter of his monthly salary. Saving to own his tuk-tuk was a 2-3 year proposition, providing everything went as planned.
How could we help?
As we were getting ready for bed that night, we discussed it with the kids and decided we could do something to help Danny fast-track his plans. He worked hard to make something of his business and went above and beyond to make his customers happy.
The next day, we offered to help him purchase his own tuk-tuk outright to save money on rental fees and expand his business when the time was right. Danny was very humbled and appreciative and got to work straight away.
Making it happen
The following day, he found a second-hand tuk-tuk in excellent condition and made plans to inspect and purchase it. Again, his dedication to taking advantage of the opportunity was inspiring and showed what genuine enthusiasm to make a go of it looks like.
Over the next week, we talked to Danny daily on Facebook chat. He sent us photos of the progress, including refurbishing the tuk-tuk, repainting it and adding those unique touches to make it more comfortable for his customers.
His first new customer
Within six days of talking to him about buying his own tuk-tuk, he had it done. The new vehicle was refurbished, licenced and on the road with his first customer. Amazing.
Making a real difference
Reflecting on this experience, I am struck by how a small amount of money can significantly impact those with businesses in less well-off countries. In Australia, we often take the opportunities and resources we can access for granted. We have the luxury of starting and growing a business with relative ease. In other parts of the world, such as Cambodia, the barriers to entry are much higher.
By providing support and resources to entrepreneurs in less well-off countries, we can help level the playing field and provide opportunities for those who work hard and get on with it, despite the incredibly tough conditions.
Danny’s story is just one example of how a small investment can make a big difference in the lives of others.
How can you help?
In conclusion, supporting Danny’s growing business has been one of the most rewarding experiences of running this business. It has shown the power of investing in others and the impact a small amount of money can have on someone’s life. Business owners have a unique opportunity to positively impact the world. Let us not take this opportunity for granted and continue to give back in any way we can.