Frontier Incubators Support Cambodian Startup Incubators

Impact Hub Phnom Penh and SHE Investments recently represented Cambodia at an intense incubator programme hosted by Frontier Incubators in Singapore, which aimed to offer targeted support for some of the Kingdom’s most promising entrepreneurs.

Impact Hub and SHE spent a week in Singapore with social incubators from 19 other incubators/accelerators from the Pacific Region, including from the Fiji Islands, Pakistan, and Indonesia.

The incubation is part of the 6-month DFAT supported Frontier Incubators programme. The various social incubators invited to the Singapore event, from 18 Asian cities, have been given access to experienced mentors, information and support from Conveners.org, Second Muse and Ygap to help make their startup journeys smoother.

Geeks in Cambodia spoke with Celia Boyd from SHE and Melanie Mossard and Sokhema Nara from Impact Hub Phnom Penh to find out more.

(The following has been edited for length and clarity.)

What did you learn from the programme in Singapore?

Celia (SHE): So much! Personally for SHE we learned a great deal about financial sustainability and our business model; what works and doesn’t work in different countries; tried and tested methods across the globe; and also about the potential for bringing small-scale investment opportunities to Cambodian entrepreneurs.

Melanie and Nara (Impact Hub): The biggest “ah-ha” moment for us was that even if we are coming from countries with different sizes or context or culture — from Fiji to Nepal or Pakistan — we are facing very similar challenges and our knowledge is highly transferable/relatable from one ecosystem to another.

It was very refreshing to get exposed to more mature ecosystems and to learn from their experiences and recommendations. We realised that we are just at the beginning of our own startup journey building Impact Hub and that it’s now a great time for us to scale it up to provide even bigger and better support to entrepreneurs in Cambodia.

What would you do differently now after attending the incubator?

C: We’re reviewing our own business model, and we’re extremely lucky to be forming a partnership with several of the programme partners, with The Difference Incubator as our lead partner. Over the next 6 months we’ll work with them to take SHE to the next stage of growth and sustainability, and work out how we can bring new and exciting forms of support for female-led micro-SMEs around the country from 2019, to accelerate them to the next stage of growth.

M&N: We have been exploring and testing many different ways to support entrepreneurs for the past 3.5 years. Now, it’s time for us to scale our impact and to strengthen the support we are providing to further contribute to the development of Cambodia’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.

For the next 6 months, we will receive technical and practical coaching from three mentors from top global incubators (Spring, Uncharted and Invest2Innovate) to develop our next strategy and improve the quality of our support, especially focusing on the curriculum of our programs, the post-program support (including the mentoring), ecosystem development and more.

What can women business owners expect after the incubator?

C: In 2019 women business owners in Cambodia can expect us to be launching new programmes to support them even further, such as an investment-readiness Accelerator and links to smaller-scale investment opportunities (i.e. under $100k).

We’re also planning to take some of our course online and create incubator programmes that make it easier for our partners in remote parts of the country to work with more female micro-entrepreneurs, as we’re getting increasing demand to work more and more with entrepreneurs outside of just Phnom Penh.

M&E: Stay tuned, many changes will happen for you next year! We will go online, strengthen the quality of our programmes, improve our post-programme supports, and grow our community just to name a few. We don’t want to just empower the next generation of entrepreneurs, but we also want to grow individuals, activate their talents, grow their entrepreneurial mindset and expand positive impact on Cambodia and the region.

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Well done to everyone involved, and Geeks looks forward to what both unveil in 2019. The landscape for Cambodian startups, entrepreneurs looks better every day!