Throughout human history, freedom has been a force for good, lifting millions of people out of poverty. Freedom unleashes the full potential of humanity. It inspires innovation, creativity and curiosity. In a truly free society, individuals are in control of their own destiny.
The Future of Freedom Fund is a project from the Institute of Public Affairs. It is intended to empower the next generation with the spirit of freedom. If you would like to donate to the Future of Freedom Fund, click here.
We at the Institute of Public Affairs decided to apply these ideas to developing countries and explore what makes countries poor and how they can become more prosperous. We visited Cambodia and met students, academics, government officials, Khmer Rouge survivors and, most importantly of all, young Cambodian entrepreneurs. We made the above video and this website about what we discovered.
Cambodia has come a long way in the last few decades. Between 2005 and 2015, 3.5 million Cambodians will lift themselves out of poverty (scroll to page 5). Between 2004 and 2011 the percentage of Cambodians living in poverty dropped from 50% to 20%. Cambodia’s economy grows at 8% per annum.
But it hasn’t always been like this.
Between 1975 and 1979 Cambodia was in the grip of one of the most merciless regimes in history, the communist Khmer Rouge. Two million Cambodians – a quarter of the population – were killed or died of starvation, disease or exhaustion during the Khmer Rouge’s reign. Among other things, the Khmer Rouge extinguished free markets and property rights and banned entrepreneurship.
Nearly all Cambodians were forced to work on Khmer Rouge projects such as this one.
Despite Cambodia’s recent success, 20% of Cambodians still live in poverty. Amnesty International estimates that 420,000 people have been affected by forced evictions from their land by the Cambodian government since 2000. According to the World Health Organisation under-nutrition contributes to 6,400 deaths annually and 40% of children under 12 are stunting.