The Opportunities in Cambodia: Ratana Phurik-Callebaut (Cambodian Private Sector & Investment Specialist)

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Living in Cambodia as a Cambodian-French Returnee (Interview with Ratana Phurik-Callebaut)

With a population of fewer than 20 million people and a reputation of being one of the poorest countries in Asia, it’s probably no surprise that Cambodia is often overlooked by the media when it comes to business opportunities. 

However, it has achieved consistent economic growth over the last 2 decades or so (averaging an annual growth rate of 7.7% between 1998 and 2019… one of the fastest growth rates in the world pre-COVID).

After covering perspectives from the thriving ecosystems in IndonesiaVietnam and the Philippines, I researched potential guests who could give an overview of the opportunities in Cambodia.

Luckily I managed to find Ratana who was more than happy to chat to me about her career and why she decided to move back to Cambodia as an Overseas Cambodian (timestamps and topics are at the bottom of this page).  

About Ratana Phurik-Callebaut, CFA

Today’s guest is Ratana Phurik-Callebaut, a Cambodian private sector & investment specialist and the founder of the Cambodia Community of Investment Professionals.

Born in Cambodia, Ratana lost her parents in the civil war and left for France at the age of 2 to stay with her extended family. After a successful banking career in Europe (France & Switzerland), she decided to move back to Cambodia and has remained there for the last 18 years. 

Listen to this podcast episode to get an insight into why Ratana left her comfortable life to move back to Cambodia and why others should consider moving there too (timestamps & topics below).

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Timestamps & Topics

About Ratana

  • 2:34 – Ratana’s introduction
  • 4:30 – Why Ratana moved from Cambodia to France
  • 6:25 – Ratana’s childhood experience living in France as a Cambodian
  • 8:40 – Ratana’s career journey in Europe
  • 10:40 – Ratana’s thoughts on the glass & bamboo ceiling in her career
  • 14:32 – Why did Ratana decide to move back to Cambodia?

Life & Careers in Cambodia

  • 19:00 – How did Ratana adjust to life in Cambodia? Language & communication difficulties?
  • 23:50 – Are many Overseas Cambodians coming back to Cambodia?
  • 26:47 – Ratana’s career progression in Cambodia
  • 32:10 – Career in Europe vs Career in Cambodia?
  • 33:05 – Cambodia 18 years ago vs now

Why Cambodia?

  • 38:05 – The business & investment opportunities in Cambodia? The positives & negatives
  • 43:20 – Who is investing in Cambodia and what are they investing in?
  • 45:40 – Expats in Cambodia? Is there a standard career path for foreigners?
  • 49:15 – Does Ratana plan to move back to Europe? Or stay in Cambodia?
  • 50:15 – How can foreigners network in Cambodia?
  • 51:30 – Is entrepreneurship popular among foreigners or locals?
  • 55:10 – What to expect when doing business in Cambodia as a foreigner?
  • 1:00:23: Life in Cambodia as an expat? What to expect living in Cambodia as a foreigner.
  • 1:03:00 – Covid situation in Cambodia? How has it been managed?
  • 1:06:10 – What is exciting Ratana about Cambodia over the next 5-10 years?


  • 1:09:30 – What is Ratana focusing on at the moment in Cambodia?
  • 1:13:30 – Life & career advice for young people. Final words and conclusion
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