The Development Technology Workshop, which designed, built and sells the world-famous
Tempest demining vegetation flail, has established Cambodia's first "business
incubator park" in Phnom Penh, where local innovators and entrepreneurs can
develop and manufacture their ideas, and create local employment.
The latest Mk 5 tracked version of the Tempest de-mining vegetation flail, during a demonstration by DTW outside Phnom Penh last week. Four more of these $105,000 machines will be built for use by the Mining Action Group in Cambodia next year.
This is the first phase of DTW's withdrawal from Cambodia, which will be completed
at some future time when it is judged that the development facility can stand alone
commercially and be run successfully by Cambodians. DTW has been active in Cambodia
for five years.
The incubator park is operated in a group of buildings at Toul Kork, leased from
the adjacent garment manufacturer PPS Ltd. It was opened last week by the British
Ambassador Stephen Bridges on the tenth anniversary of DTW's establishment by the
engineering department of Warwick University of Britain. Bridges said DTW was designed
and had evolved to produce locally appropriate technology for developing countries.
"It also has a very powerful and influential social role, employing per capita
probably as many disabled people as any institution in Cambodia."
Mick Stimpson, DTW 's general manager, said: "The park is about creating ethical,
sustainable employment and reducing donor dependency. It's not about setting up business
that rewards the minority; it's about creating opportunities for all to share in
the wealth created through teamwork. DTW wish to be seen as a model employer with
full consideration for the needs of people with disability in the workplace without
segregation or discrimination. We hope that when it's time to leave Cambodia we'll
have created something permanent that we can be proud of.
" In the past we've never been happy with the way our products have been commercialised.
The commercial sector is good at sustaining business, but it does less well when
it comes to people and their development. While DTW has struggled to find funding
for new products, its hived-off products have been doing extremely well and profits
have gone to serve only the entrepreneur.
"DTW is helping to establish local manufacture as a positive investment in the
economies of poorer countries. The local communities benefit from new skilled jobs
and the economy benefits from the retention of capital."
Stimpson believes the path forward is to find a way to commercialise product ideas,
without losing control, while encouraging staff to take ownership and responsibility
for themselves and their jobs.
He says the greatest strength of an incubator park is the sharing of assets and symbiosis.
Expensive machinery can be contracted out within the park group for small jobs without
the need for large capital investment. Sharing of costs such as administration, sales,
marketing, communications, premises and technical support makes start-up possibilities
more accessible and affordable. "Start-ups" can choose later whether to
integrate with the park or split off. For a stand-alone enterprise, standing charges
and running costs in Cambodia are some of the highest in Southeast Asia.
DTW has applied for ISO9000 certification and hopes to achieve this by September.
Business development manager Richard Pullen says: "This will give us credibility
on the world-wide market and allow us to guarantee our products with confidence.
We're one of the first organizations in Cambodia to seek certification."