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

  • Time to avert disastrous Covid situation: officials

    The Covid-19 situation in Cambodia is heading towards further large-scale community transmission as the total number of confirmed cases is nearing 61,000 and the death toll passed 900 on July 10, senior health officials warned. Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine expressed concern that the country was going

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Baby saved as mother is lost to Covid

    Newborn baby Neth David has had a rough start in the world. His mother, Vong Daneth, was seven months pregnant when she contracted a severe case of Covid-19. When it became clear to her doctors that she would not survive, they performed a cesarean section

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • Hun Sen: Get 12-17 age group ready for Covid jabs

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has told parents of children aged 12-17 in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kandal and Preah Sihanouk to get them ready for vaccinations soon. “There is a need to vaccinate children and youths aged 12 to 17. According to the statistics provided