The government-backed Techo Startup Center says it plans to launch a digital platform next month, providing a one-stop shop for tech entrepreneurs who want to turn their business ideas into reality.
The centre, which works under the Ministry of Economy and Finance, already offers acceleration programmes for startups, with one on agricultural value chains and another on the green economy planned for next year.
Vantharith Oum, the centre’s Startup Development Specialist says more needs to be done to help Cambodian startups get funding, mentoring and introduce them to a community of like-minded individuals to share ideas.
“How is Cambodia’s startup eco system? Most people respond that the ecosystem is very vibrant but this is subjective. If we ask deeper, what is the level of vibrancy? If we go deeper, asking follow-up questions like how many startups have been scaled up, what is their survival rate, what is their contribution to gross domestic product, what is contribution to employment or job creation and what are those innovations that are created by the startups it would be difficult to answer,” Oum said.
Startups in Cambodia face several challenges, according to Oum.
Registering a company is easy here but many startups fail, and closing the company is very difficult. Banks don’t want to lend money to unregistered companies. Few entrepreneurs have access to prototyping laboratories, funding, export mentors or a pool of trained talent.
Oum says Techo Startup Centre cannot solve the challenge on its own, so it has worked on the Startup Cambodia Platform with the Finance Ministry and Khmer Enterprise to bring people together to build a healthy environment for startups.
The platform provides a gateway to Cambodia’s startup ecosystem, brings startups together to encourage partnerships, gives new companies global exposure and provides entrepreneurs with the latest information that can help them get their enterprises off the ground.
There are four phases to the plan. Firstly to provide a one-stop information hub, with a directory of programmes that support startups. Phase two will be to establish a database of of startups, mentors, investors, coworking spaces, service providers, government agencies and companies in the private sector that can offer help.
The third phase will be to set up an event calendar, featuring all the events related to startups and entrepreneurship. The final step is to create a resource library featuring template documents for founder and shareholder agreements, articles of incorporation and relevant government policies.
“With the launch that we plan in early December we have already listed 74 startups, 37 mentors, 12 entities of investors and other actors including government and academic institutions,” he said.
In coming months, Oum sees the platform integrating with other stakeholders and becoming an engine for smart matching between startups and investors and mentors.
He says the Techo Startup Center plans to continue engaging with users and other groups and individuals in the startup ecosystem so that it can continue to improve the platform.
This article was first published in Khmer Times. All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.