Cambodia Launches National Startup Program

Hopes are being pinned on Cambodia’s mushrooming startup scene aiding the country’s post-pandemic economic recovery, thanks to the launch of a new national initiative.
Startup Cambodia:
Startup Cambodia:

Cambodia’s startup scene has been given a boost, thanks to the launch of a national program targeting emerging entrepreneurs.

At yesterday’s official launch, Aun Pornmoniroth, Cambodia’s Minister of Economy and Finance and Deputy Prime Minister, said the program features a new online platform to drive collaborations with all key players in the sector.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic impacts on global economic growth, the Minister told the audience that, “A vibrant and enabling startup ecosystem for successful incubation of startups will contribute to post-Covid-19 economic recovery and building Cambodia's digital economy.”

The Deputy Prime Minister also believes “creating a vibrant startup ecosystem that can facilitate high growth of both startups and small and medium enterprises is a key driver in contributing to the revival and promotion of Cambodia’s economy and society”.

[Cambodia’s ICT Start-ups Awarded for Innovations During Covid-19]

An integral part of the Cambodia Digital Economy and Society Policy Framework 2021-2035, is to spur technology innovation among local startups in the ecosystem. Both Techo Startup Center (TSC) and Khmer Enterprise (KE), the arm of the Cambodian ministry, will manage the online hub platform, with potential to collaborate with others in ASEAN, including Startup Singapore, Startup Thailand, and Startup Vietnam.

The Startup Cambodia platform features essential information about the ecosystem’s key drivers and players, as well as mentorship programs for startup founders by United Nation Development Program (UNDP) and ImpactHub.

The Startup Cambodia national program also hopes to unify key drivers, such as Khmer Enterprise (KE), Cambodia Academy of Digital Technology (CADT), Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC), Techo Startup Center (TSC), ImpactHub, business incubators, accelerators, and investment firms.

Cheryl NG of UNDP
Cheryl NG of UNDP

To help Cambodian entrepreneurs build and scale their companies, having a network of mentors in place for early stage startups is crucial. Speaking at the launch, Cheryl NG, UNDP’s Startup Ecosystem Support Consultant, said the key step to help youth entrepreneurs is to “remove the barrier to access startup mentorship in Cambodia”.

[Cambodia Urged to Embrace Industry 4.0]

Presenting a research paper on ‘Creating High-Tech Startup Ecosystem in Cambodia’, Srang Sarot, of ITC, noted the importance of “a national scholarship scheme to ensure high-quality graduates at flagship universities with seed-funding for start-up”.

To foster digital innovation, CADT’s Vice President, Sam Sithserey, stressed the vital role of the academia, based on the “triple helix model of innovation” in the knowledge economy and society.

Since its inception in the early 2010s, startup ecosystems have continued to evolve. The last few years have seen more national and international initiatives further transform its organic growth.