Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Business Insider: Incubator giving Cambodia’s startups chances to compete

Business Insider: Incubator giving Cambodia’s startups chances to compete

Melanie Mossard, community director at Impact Hub. Photo supplied
Melanie Mossard, community director at Impact Hub. Photo supplied

Business Insider: Incubator giving Cambodia’s startups chances to compete

Cambodia’s nascent startup scene is nurtured by tech and incubation hubs, which often partner with business leaders and NGOs to provide mentoring and funding to young entrepreneurs. The Post’s Robin Spiess caught up with Melanie Mossard, director of community at Phnom Penh’s Impact Hub, to see what the organisation has planned for the future.

What is Impact Hub, and how do you contribute to the overall startup ecosystem in Cambodia?
Impact Hub is a startup business incubator for young innovators with original ideas solving pressing problems and improving the life of local communities.

In addition to monthly training, we provide mentoring, facilitate connections with relevant stakeholders and bring them emotional support.

Since we started three years ago, we have been supporting 70 teams of aspiring entrepreneurs and 75 percent of them are still working on their startups.

What has Impact Hub been working on lately, and what does it have planned for the rest of the year?
We are now running a program called YouthEcoLabs, a three-month business model validation program for aspiring environmental entrepreneurs, including an exposure trip to the forest, supported by the United States Embassy.

In the middle of this month, we will launch the SDG [Sustainable Development Goals] Fellowship Program, with the support from UNDP, which will provide free working space, mentoring and connections.

We are also about to launch the flagship program of the year, the Smart Start Program. It is a nine-month incubation period for aspiring tech entrepreneurs providing leadership, technical and business training for students, in addition to a $4,000 prize. The best team will win an exposure trip to Singapore to visit the tech giants Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn and Facebook.

What are the main challenges facing young entrepreneurs in Cambodia today?
The first challenge is access to a network, which provides entrepreneurs not only with business contacts but also affirmation and support, giving aspiring entrepreneurs the courage to continue their journey, even in difficult times.

Next, technical business skills. We see entrepreneurs who have a strong understanding of the issue they want to solve, but they lack the business know-how (from financials, to marketing, to value chain management) to turn these solutions into sustainable, replicable models.

The final challenge is lack of access to funding. There are very few options available in Cambodia for entrepreneurs looking to validate their models and enter the market.

How would you describe the state of funding for startups in the Kingdom?
I am an optimist about the funding available for startups. Most of them choose to bootstrap their activities by using personal savings, friends or family money, or grants received through competition.

With the recent launch of the SADIF by Smart and the new network of angel investors, a new range of funding is available.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the