Are you a youth entrepreneur who is passionate about making a difference to the environment? Or do you have an exciting and fresh innovative idea to alleviate any threats to the environment? Well, if you answered ‘yes’ to both of the questions above and are seeking to kickstart your eco startup now, Impact Hub’s Youth Eco Labs may be the perfect platform to leverage on!
Generously supported by Cambodia’ US Embassy and just recently launched in January 2018, Youth Eco Labs is an intensive 3-month programme, which aims to support youth in developing high-impact businesses that can solve some of the nation’s most pressing environmental worries!
“Youth Eco Labs’ goal is to help aspiring entrepreneurs turn their passion for environmental impact into viable social business models, which can really start to see improvements in various challenges facing the country,’’ says Melanie Mossard, Director of Community at Impact Hub Phnom Penh.
With this in mind, the programme will see 10 teams participate throughout the 3-month entrepreneurship support programme and will Theocus on budding entrepreneurs who have an initial idea or who have started early work on an innovation that can solve an environmental challenge – from waste management to pollution, deforestation, and animal welfare.
During the programme itself, participants can expect to go through a series of invaluable masterclasses, attend exciting field trips and coaching circles, as well as pitch their ideas on a public platform. To delve in deeper into each of the following features, here is a brief description of each segment:
Starting from the first week of February, a series of 10 masterclasses will be held once a week and they will cover topics pertaining to entrepreneurship, environmental impact and leadership.
The exact topics they plan to cover will be as follows:
Understanding the broad context of environmental issues in Cambodia and the environmental, social and economic impact.
Understanding your user using human-centered design thinking to understanding how the problem affects individual users and communities.
Designing the innovative solution, thinking creatively to ideate innovative solutions.
Rapid prototyping to build lean models to test the solution with potential users and critical thinking to analyze results.
Delivering the solution, analyzing opportunities, understanding and designing business models through which to deliver the solution.
Strategic planning to identify long-term goals and short-term objectives to reach these goals.
Communication and storytelling to communicate effectively through social media and offline.
Mindful leadership skills in fair, balanced and thoughtful leadership.
Building high-performance teams.
Effective decision making, critical analysis and negotiation.
Participants will be awarded with an exposure field trip to experience environmental challenges, further research their idea and test their innovation with potential users. This allows teams to further explore their ideas in the real world and market.
Mentoring and Coaching Circles
Each team will be matched with a personal mentor who will provide 1-on-1 personal advice and support throughout the program. Youth Eco Labs Coaching Circles will also be held, where participants come together to share challenges and provide one another with solutions and advice. From here, participants can learn more from the expert speakers and well-known entrepreneurs who will be sharing more about their own experiences and will be giving invaluable advice.
To mark the end of the Labs with a big bang, all teams will present their ideas at a public event, where they will receive advice from a expert panel, which includes representatives from the US Embassy, Impact Hub and other environmental advisors; to develop their ideas further and be presented with completion certificates. Furthermore, outstanding teams who have shown the most potential will be awarded a 1-year Impact Hub membership for further support to turn their ideas into reality and provide them with the long term promotion they require.
Overall, through this series of 10 masterclasses, 1-on-1 mentoring and an exposure field trip, selected individuals or teams will experience all aspects of how to develop a strong social impact business model, as well as personal skills in leadership, team building, personal responsibility and creativity.
On top of that, at the end of the Labs, each team would have had developed and tested an innovation capable of solving an environmental problem and would have had designed and tested a business model for delivering this impact to consumers.
“Youth Eco Labs is all about practical action over theoretical business planning. We encourage participants to get out and about so they truly understand the problems and rapidly test their ideas with real future users. New entrepreneurs are often nervous about getting out there, but with the support of mentors, program facilitators and fellow participants, we can help build their confidence and see great results fast,’’ says Chhunny Noem, program facilitator.
Laura Smitheman, Programs Director at Impact Hub, also adds on, saying, “We are looking for entrepreneurs who are passionate, motivated and ambitious. We’ll then plug in the main factors we see challenging Cambodian entrepreneurs – access to business know-how, networks and community. A recipe for success!”.
Arend Zwartjes, Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy also said, “The U.S. Embassy is a strong advocate, just like the Government of Cambodia, of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. We support Youth Eco Labs because they too are strong advocates of STEM, and they have a creative approach using entrepreneurship toward solving some of Cambodia and the world’s most pressing environmental issues. We hope this project will create more motivated, innovative leaders for Cambodia.”
If you are interested in applying, all you have to do is complete this short application form, explaining your idea and your motivation for applying to the Labs, before 21 January 2018.
Also, if you require support in completing your applications, you can also contact Melanie at firstname.lastname@example.org or come to Impact Hub Phnom Penh to speak to one of the managing representatives in person.