MBI launches tourism accelerator programmes in the Mekong region

Backed by the Asian Development Bank and funded by the government of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI) has launched the Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST) programme consisting of two accelerators to support the growth of innovative tourism businesses in the Mekong region, including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

Both the programmes are catered to businesses at various stages of their development, so whether you’re coming in with an established business model looking to expand into the Mekong region, or you’re simply someone that has a great idea for regional tourism, this initiative is just the right platform for you!

For MBI, launching a startup is not only about the viability of the business, but the positive social impact of the business as well. As such, applicants will need to demonstrate how their business model will help to create jobs, generate positive community impact, and contribute to the sustainable tourism growth of the Mekong region.

Dominic Mellor, senior Asian Development Bank economist and the founder of the Mekong Business Initiative, said, “The MIST accelerator programs give a leg up to tourism investments that create jobs, help local communities, and support entrepreneurship, especially for women.”

The first accelerator being launched as part of the initiative is the MIST Startup Accelerator. This programme is tailored to younger, aspiring startups who are in the infancy of their business development.

If you’re a founder who is accepted into this programme, you’ll get to attend mini bootcamps which are customised for tourism startups to help develop your business plan. At the end of this accelerator, the top business plans from each country will receive a MIST Innovation Grant. The best overall plan will receive a USD$10,000 grant and the three runners-up will receive a USD$7,000 grant.

The second accelerator is the MIST Market Access Accelerator programme where participants will take part in familiarisation tours of the various Mekong Region tourism areas. Through these programmes, participants will receive coaching, custom market insights and be introduced to the various supplier networks and regional stakeholders. This accelerator is targeted at more mature international tourism startups looking to enter the region.

Eventually, if you’re taking part in either of the accelerators, you’ll get to pitch your idea to investors, global acceleration programmes and tourism industry leaders at the Mekong Tourism Forum in June and at the APEC Summit in November.

“The Great Mekong Subregion is among the fastest growing tourism destinations on earth. Start-ups can disrupt traditional practices to adapt to changing consumer behaviors,” said Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office.

To qualify for both these accelerator programmes, prepare your business proposals and submit them to this website before 19 March!

Geeks in Cambodia wishes you all the best as you prepare your proposals for the competition!