ASEAN Youth Entrepreneurs: Pioneering Socio-Economic Change


VIENTIANE, 19 July 2019, Under the theme “Role of Young Entrepreneurs in ASEAN for Socio-Economic Development,” the 23rd ASEAN Youth Day Meeting gathered youth representatives from ASEAN Member States to highlight their community development initiatives that leveraged modern technologies.

Participants discussed how technology and agribusinesses are driving social change. Through panel discussions, they explored collaborative opportunities for young people in the business sector while contributing to the socio-economic growth of ASEAN communities.

Notably, the meeting included the 11th ASEAN Youth Award recipients: Md. Iqbal Fakhri Damit (Brunei Darussalam), Markara Nuon (Cambodia), Rici Solihin (Indonesia), Thavone Athsamoud (Lao PDR), Dailami Daiel Bin Mat Nor (Malaysia), Kay Thari Kyaw (Myanmar), Ray Alayannah Ysabel L. Lagasca (Philippines), Mohamed Abbas Sheyef Ebramsa (Singapore), Krittapas Srisook (Thailand), and Võ Quân Duy (Viet Nam). They presented their efforts to uplift vulnerable communities. (Youth Entrepreneurs Celebrate Community Development Spirit in ASEAN, 2021)

The 23rd ASEAN Youth Day Meeting was co-organized by the Lao Youth Union, the Young Entrepreneur Association of Laos, and the ASEAN Secretariat. Established in 1992, it remains a key initiative by ASEAN to prepare its youth for the future and to encourage their contributions to sustainable development.

Top Youth Entrepreneurs: ASEAN

Photos by STEW POST:


Kosoma Kim recognizes the potential of Cambodia’s youthful population and harnesses this through her role at Impact Hub, a platform for entrepreneurs and creatives. With a bachelor’s degree in Business Economics, Kosoma gained diverse industry experience before joining Impact Hub in 2017 as a Communication Junior. There, she discovered her passion for videography, creating educational content to expand the Hub’s network.

As Business Development and Digital Impact Director, Kosoma disseminates the latest information and fosters self-education for Cambodian entrepreneurs. She also manages the Smart Unipreneurship Platform, endorsed by Cambodia’s Ministry of Education. A YSEALI grant recipient, Kosoma values the inspiring community of changemakers at Impact Hub and is dedicated to supporting the next generation of Cambodian innovators. (Delgado et al., 2021)

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Anderson Sumarli, co-founder and CEO of Ajaib Group, developed the Ajaib investment app. Established in 2018, Ajaib became Indonesia’s 7th unicorn startup after securing a Series B funding of US$ 153 million (approximately Rp. 2.2 trillion) led by DST Global, with participation from Alpha JWC Ventures and other previous investors.

Anderson, recognized in Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2020, has significantly increased the number of retail investors in Indonesia through his work as a successful young investor and entrepreneur. (10 Successful Young Indonesian Entrepreneurs Starting a Business From Scratch, 2023)

Photos by Brandon Chia:


In a country with few entrepreneurs, Sithong Sokphonexai from Laos defied skepticism to start his business in Luang Prabang. Inspired by a childhood dream, he began by selling t-shirts at the night market, funded by two American women who believed in his vision. After eight months, he saved enough to open ‘Lala Laos’, offering t-shirts, jewelry, paintings, and scarves. Despite his friends’ doubts, he found encouragement from foreign supporters.

Determined to give back, Sithong uses his profits to support girls from remote villages in attending school, funding a dormitory for them. Now aiming to expand to Vientiane, he continues to work 16-hour days, seven days a week. Despite returning to the night market for extra income, he plans to buy land for a new dormitory and enhance his social media strategy. Sithong’s young daughter is already following in his entrepreneurial footsteps, selling items to tourists, embodying the future of Lao business. (Breimer, 2019)

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Raudhah Nazran, recently listed in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2022, is a Malaysian government scholar and law graduate from the UK. She launched her social entrepreneurship career in the UK, leading a social enterprise with 104 international members for three years. In Malaysia, she serves on the advisory board for the Polytechnic and College Community Malaysia, contributing to curriculum development for business operations. Raudhah is the youngest board member appointed. She is also the founder of Accelerate Global, a youth-led social enterprise focused on upskilling underprivileged and marginalized youths. (MALAYSIA’S YOUNG & INSPIRING ENTREPRENEURS – THE TOP 10, 2023)

Photos by Trefor Moss:


Aisa Mijeno, a scientist and entrepreneur, co-founded SALt, an initiative providing lamps powered by salt water. This innovation has transformed lighting in numerous rural areas in the Philippines, reducing reliance on kerosene. In 2014, she joined a panel at the APEC CEO Summit alongside former President Barack Obama and Alibaba CEO Jack Ma. Looking ahead, Aisa aims to expand the distribution of SALt lanterns across the Philippines and potentially throughout Southeast Asia. She also serves as the Director of De La Salle Innovation Labs, contributing to technological advancements and social initiatives. (TOP 10 YOUNG & INSPIRING FILIPINO ENTREPRENEURS, 2021)

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While studying in the US, Son Nguyen noticed the rising pollution from motorbikes during his annual visits to Vietnam. With vehicles contributing to 70% of emissions and gasoline motorbikes accounting for 90% of that, he aimed to make Vietnam greener. Returning in 2018, Nguyen founded Dat Bike, Vietnam’s first local e-bike manufacturer. His mission is to replace gasoline motorbikes in Vietnam and Southeast Asia with electric alternatives. Dat Bike’s model, Weaver, debuted on Shark Tank in 2019 and stands out for its quick acceleration, 100km range per charge, and long-lasting, recyclable lithium-ion battery. (Alpuerto, 2021)


The 23rd ASEAN Youth Day Meeting underscored the transformative role of young entrepreneurs in socio-economic development across ASEAN. Highlighting innovative community initiatives, the event celebrated the unique contributions of youth in harnessing technology and entrepreneurship to drive social change.

Entrepreneurs like Kosoma Kim from Cambodia, Anderson Sumarli from Indonesia, Sithong Sokphonexai from Laos, Raudhah Nazran from Malaysia, Aisa Mijeno from the Philippines, and Son Nguyen from Vietnam exemplify how youthful ingenuity can lead to impactful ventures. Kosoma’s work with Impact Hub, Anderson’s pioneering Ajaib investment app, Sithong’s community-driven retail business, Raudhah’s youth-focused social enterprise, Aisa’s eco-friendly SALt lamps, and Son’s green transportation solutions reflect a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit. 

These young leaders are not only driving economic growth but are also committed to addressing social issues, from education and environmental sustainability to technological advancement. Their endeavors demonstrate the potential of youth-led innovation to create lasting positive change, fostering a resilient and inclusive ASEAN community. 

The collective achievements showcased at the ASEAN Youth Day Meeting highlight the importance of supporting young entrepreneurs in turning their ideas into reality, ultimately contributing to the region’s sustainable development and future prosperity.


Alpuerto, A. (2021, November 4). 5 Vietnamese Entrepreneurs Who Are Championing Sustainable Living. Vietcetera. Retrieved June 29, 2024, from

Breimer, S. (2019, June 2). Meeting a role model entrepreneur from Laos | by Sanne Breimer | Draper Startup House. Medium. Retrieved June 29, 2024, from

Delgado, A. L., Cribb, R., & Hobbs, C. (2021, February 9). Meet the top 10 young entrepreneurs shaping Cambodia’s future. Southeast Asia Globe. Retrieved June 29, 2024, from

MALAYSIA’S YOUNG & INSPIRING ENTREPRENEURS – THE TOP 10. (2023, February 9). Top 10 of Asia. Retrieved June 29, 2024, from

10 Successful Young Indonesian Entrepreneurs Starting a Business from Scratch. (2023, August 1). Alpha JWC Ventures. Retrieved June 29, 2024, from

TOP 10 YOUNG & INSPIRING FILIPINO ENTREPRENEURS. (2021, September 2). Top 10 of Asia. Retrieved June 29, 2024, from

Youth entrepreneurs celebrate community development spirit in ASEAN. (2021, August 24). Retrieved June 28, 2024, from

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