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An incubator park for baby businesses

An incubator park for baby businesses

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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."

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