A group of enterprising Cambodian-Muslim youth have created a social media platform called Emazoo that will connect, entertain and facilitate online advertising and sales for users.
The newly launched social networking site allows users to earn credit from posting content and use that credit to boost subsequent posts for the purpose of online sales and advertising.
Emazoo – which stands for engine, mother, a-z (as in the alphabet) and oo (representing a pair of eyes) – was created by Sen Moslim along with three friends Chea Sina, Yeb Ismac and Heng Rothvisoth.
But the world of social media and tech start-ups is a world away from where Moslim was raised.
Born in Kampong Thom province in 1988, the young entrepreneur has six siblings and grew up in a poor but hard-working family of farmers and metal smiths.
“I couldn’t afford a bicycle and had to walk a long way to school. I didn’t have a childhood like other children. When other kids were playing, I was working in the rice fields and on the potato farm,” says the 31-year-old.
He describes himself as a silent and isolated boy who was only focused on his studies and had very few friends. Though his overall performance at school was not outstanding, he says mathematics was his favourite subject.
In 2000 when Moslim was in grade seven, he got scholarship from an Islamic Centre to receive free education, food and accommodation at a school located far from his home town.
“It was a hard time for me that I had to be away from the family at a young age. Because the school had a strict policy, my family were not allowed to visit me often. The school were afraid I could not focus on my studies [if they visited]. I remember when my grandmother passed away, my family didn’t even inform me. I was angry and regretful,” Moslim recalls.
Extremely unhappy in school, Moslim planned to drop out, but his parents insisted he continue.
“I followed my parent’s decision and I started studying again. I asked my friends to tutor me, and so after trying so hard I just managed to pass the high school exams with E grades,” he says.
In 2005, Moslim received a full scholarship from the Cambodian Muslim Intellectual Union Alliance to study civil engineering at Norton University. But despite the progress he was making, money and resources were still a major hurdle for the young man to overcome.
“I didn’t have a job or money to buy a motorbike and computer. I had to help my friend with our assignments so that they would let me use their computer after,” Moslim says.
Graduating in 2008 before then working in construction until 2015, Moslim knew that his interest lay elsewhere as he began online businesses through Youtube and Facebook.
When these began earning a good profit, he decided to give up on the solid and stable life of an engineer and dedicate all his time to the more risky business of building his own brand new, locally-established social media platform.
In 2016, Moslim and his high school friend Heng Rothvisoth – also then a civil engineering student in Indonesia – decided to take the leap and begin the project.
Overcoming many false-starts and bumps in the road, they finally established Emazoo.
“I want Cambodian people to have their own social media network. It is easy to play and get advantages for their businesses and advertisements without spending much money,” says Moslim, comparing Emazoo’s low cost to Facebook’s charges for advertising.
“First, users can create their own profile and post statuses, photos and videos. They can like, comment and share posts or photos like on other social media. Users can also create pages. They can boost pages or photos. When they post something, they will be rewarded five cents, which can be used to boost something,” he says.
Moslim says that a second defining feature of the platform is that when something is posted by a user on their profile it will be added to Emazoo’s marketing platform, where other users, even those who aren’t your friends, can see it.
A third feature is Emazoo’s own blog – providing automatically translated posts and information for users – as well as many popular games.
Since launching in April, Emazoo has over 1,000 users, 97 pages and 20 groups (as of the end of April).
But while the project is progressing steadily, Moslim says his team are facing many challenges.
“First, we lack technicians, web developers and coders. The second problem is capital. Every month, we share our money to cover the costs in the investment together. Third, for now we only have Emazoo for computers and Android devices, but not for iOS. We are striving to speed up the process and hopefully we will have Emazoo for iOS soon,” Moslim says.
But these challenges do not hold back their ambition. In the future, Moslim wants Emazoo to grow to be among the social media giants and act as a safe online market.
“We dream of making Emazoo a big social media platform that is different from others. Emazoo will function as a platform for online buying and selling with safe transactions. Both the clients and sellers should not be afraid of losing money, being cheated or other kinds of fraud.”
You can find out more about Emazoo on their webpage (www.Emazoo.com), Facebook (@Emazooteam) or telephone (085 990 968 or 086 990 969).