Photo: My Dream Home/Impact Hub Phnom Penh
A version of this story originally appeared on the Impact Hub website. Original content submitted by Olivia Hough, Communication Manager at Impact Hub Phnom Penh.
When Kongngy Hav (Ngy for short) first stepped into one of Impact Hub Phnom Penh‘s bootcamps two years ago, his drive and passion were instantly contagious. His mission? To create affordable housing for low-income Cambodians- to give them their dream home.
Garment workers are arguably one of the most underprivileged groups in Cambodian society. Numbering in the thousands, they live in slum-like conditions on the outskirts of cities, working long hours and living in desolate conditions. Following a motorbike accident, Ngy was inspired by the kindness of a group of garment workers who took him in and offered him help, despite having so little themselves. He was shocked by their poor living conditions and decided he wanted to help them improve their quality of life – to provide the possibly of dignified, healthy, and positive homes.
This led to the creation of My Dream Home, which was built on a simple concept: create cheap, easy-to-construct, environmentally friendly bricks that can reduce the cost of building a house by 20-40%. Using a cross-subsidization model, he would subsidize houses sold to low-income customers and recover costs by selling bricks at higher unit costs to high-income customers. The interlocking bricks use less concrete, require no burning during production, and are easy to put together. Many of Ngy’s construction workers are women, and this model enables poor families to build their own houses quickly, conveniently, and at a low cost.
After the initial two years of refining his idea and creating prototypes, Ngy’s successes began to flood in. Ngy was selected from thousands to join The Do School as a Fellow, where he received expert guidance and tools to develop his business plan and entrepreneurial skills. Next he attended SmallWorld and Gazaab Enterprise’s Social Enterprise Competition, where Ngy and his business won first prize. He then joined an Impact Hub Phnom Penh Bootcamp, coming in second place, which kick-started his journey with the Impact Hub team. Seeing such huge potential in Ngy and My Dream Home, there was no doubt that he should become an Impact Hub Fellow, and receive support to get it even further off the ground. The Hub Fellowship is a six month program that provides support to selected entrepreneurs who have displayed exceptional ideas and commitment to developing start ups which have a positive impact on the community. They receive access to personal mentoring, free use of the co-working space, and connections with an extensive network of national and international contacts.
Thanks to Impact Hub Phnom Penh’s connections and support, My Dream Home received an initial donation to purchase its first machine and once the concept was proven, subsequent donations to purchase additional machinery. Impact Hub Phnom Penhalso helped Ngy identify experts to provide tailored support – from volunteer engineers to accountants and advice from impact investors, marketing gurus and business consultants. Most recently, My Dream Home was selected from hundreds of applications to visit Mumbai, India to pitch My Dream Home to a team of judges for the Global Innovation Challenge with The Global Sankalp Forum, an opportunity that was made possible from mentoring at the Impact Hub, and a promotional deck and video, put together by a fellow Hubbers.
Looking into the future, Ngy and My Dream Home will soon be featured in cinemas around Cambodia as part of Cellcard and Impact Hub Phnom Penh ‘Changemaker’ program, in which exceptional Khmer impact entrepreneurs showcase their ventures in a short energetic videos – a fantastic opportunity to inspire other Cambodian impact entrepreneurs and celebrate the incredible dream Ngy has to transform the housing sector in Cambodia.