Tech Startup and SME Forum ‘17: A Retrospective

The first ever Tech Startup and SME Forum successfully happened on 19 December at the Hotel Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra, from 8am to 5pm! Organised by the National Institute of Posts, Telecoms & ICT (NIPTICT), this power-packed forum was created with the intent of increasing awareness of Cambodia’s digital economy and to help SMEs and startups on their journey going digital – so that they can remain competitive in this volatile market.

Additionally, this forum also aimed to shine more light on local tech startups and SMEs by giving them a platform to share their experiences about much needed cooperation and business assistance, on top of enlarging the pool of aspiring SMEs and tech startups and getting companies ready to expand their business at local and international levels.

Furthermore, this forum was supported by 6 different ministries including the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication (MPTC), the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MoEF), the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft (MOIH), the Ministry of Commerce (MoC), the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport (MoEYS), and the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MoLVT).  This event was also supported by Cambodia’s leading telecommunications mobile operator, Smart Axiata as the main sponsor and also helped out by the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Cambodia (YEAC), Junior Chamber International Cambodia (JCI), UNIDO and other local startup entrepreneurs as well.

Besides seeing the presence of approximately 300 enthusiastic participants, this forum also invited many well-known guest speakers from all walks of life, ranging from government backgrounds to private sectors and even those stemming from local business, technology and consultancy-focused enterprises and startups.

All these experts helped to present their wide range of ideas, knowledge and philosophies to the excited participants; inspiring the creation of innovative strategies and policies for efficiently building tech-related startups and SMEs with the help of digital means, which is predicted to be a powerful motivator in the Cambodian digital market in the next 5 years.

Outlining the concrete main topics discussed during the event, the 5 main topics discussed were:

  • The Government’s Role and Initiatives to Support SMEs and Tech Startups

  • SMEs go digital – “Opportunities and Challenges”

  • The Tech Startup Ecosystem

  • Online funding platforms for Tech Startups and SMEs

  • Skills, Research, and Innovation as keys to the digital economy

As for the key points brought up by the VIPs during the event itself, the President of  NIPTICT, Dr. Seng Sopheap, went on to mention how proud the institute is for initiating this collaboration with Smart Axiata, as well as receiving relentless support from the other 6 ministries involved; so as to help engage audiences from various public institutions, private sectors, educational sectors and non-governmental organisations.

This event serves as a big milestone for Cambodia’s Tech Startup and SME ecosystem as the forum marks the first time ever for Cambodia to hold a business forum on such a large scale.

H.E Tram Iv Tek, the Minister of MPTC, also highlighted in his opening speech about the Cambodian government’s recent efforts in supporting local tech businesses too.

H.E. Tram shares more about the Cambodian Government's vast array of initiatives to support local tech startups and SMEs
H.E. Tram shares more about the Cambodian Government’s vast array of initiatives to support local tech startups and SMEs

“Recently, the government of Cambodia has taken a deep interest and care to the new enterprises and companies that have just launched their digital businesses. In fact, the government of Cambodia is studying the results of supporting the Tech Startup Ecosystem and is encouraging entrepreneurs to have digital products and services made in the country; including the online markets, which allows companies to keep in touch with their partners both inbound and outbound conveniently. Information and communications technology (ICT) also creates special opportunities for new businesses, as well as gives customers new products and services that are not yet available on the market as of now,” H.E. Tram goes on.

Similarly, H.E. Dr. Cham Prasidh, the Senior Minister of MOIH, shared more about how such tech businesses and enterprises are quintessential to the Cambodian market’s growth today.

H.E. Dr. Cham further elaborates, “SMEs play vital roles in increasing the national economic income and its labour market. They contribute in making national profit of about 60% to 70%, accounting for all the gross products. SMEs in Cambodia also make up 95% of all the large enterprises in the country. Therefore, the cooperation between tech startups and SMEs is essential, a thing we should never neglect because SMEs need new technology provided by the tech startups as a backup for their business development.”.

With that, we can be sure that the event was not only an impactful and successful one, but it also instils how bright the future looks for aspiring tech startups and SMEs in the Kingdom, who are seeking for more governmental support in their businesses’ digital transformations in the long haul!

For more information on NIPTICT, you can visit their website here or head down to their Facebook page here.