Wednesday Scribbles : Stories of Entrepreneurial Growth From Cambodia

Notes from a changing world…
May 17th 

” Use technology to skip the learning curve because, at the end of the day, technology is the great equaliser”

– Dr. Sok Siphana, Managing Partner, Sok Siphana & Associates, & Former Commerce Secretary of State in the Cambodian Government

Startup community in Cambodia gained momentum from 2011 onwards and is motivated by a new entrepreneurial ecosystem of angel investors, venture capitalists, accelerators and co-working spaces. However, Cambodian startups face problems to secure decent exits for their shareholders.
The Innovations Against Poverty fund promotes innovative inclusive business models that deliver financial benefits for the private sector along with developmental benefits for the low-income population as it recognises the potential of the low-income market in a country like Cambodia.
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Registrations costs are expensive for enterprises in Cambodia until they become sustainable. Three of the most successful entrepreneurs of Cambodia have discussed the disadvantages of the registration process, which includes getting investors, as they would only invest in legally established companies.
A women-centric business incubator, WECREATE an initiative of the US State Department focuses on Lower Mekong Region to ensure sustainability for the women led businesses.  The center offers training and guidance to women entrepreneurs to start their own enterprises.
Following more than two decades of strong economic growth, Cambodia has attained the lower middle-income status as of 2015, with gross national income (GNI) per capita reaching US$1,070. However, lack of quality public service delivery impeding inclusive development, land and resource management, and good governance are still a challenge.
This Cambodian enterprise is leveraging the growing tech-innovation community in the country to create awareness among citizens on their rights under domestic and international law. It has developed online interactive content on land rights education to address prevailing knowledge gaps.
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To improve access to clean drinking water, this enterprise GRET has been supporting local water operators in Cambodia’s villages through a service centre called iSEA. The iSEA team provides technical assistance to operators at competitive prices.
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WaterSHED facilitates the adoption of toilets, water filters, and handwashing stations.To date, WaterSHED’s hands-off marketing approach has enabled small businesses to sell more than 150,000 toilets, generating more than USD $6 million in revenue for rural businesses, and helping accelerate sanitation coverage from a stagnant 25% to nearly 50% in five years.
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Check out how this fish shaped iron ingot is solving the problem of growing iron deficiency among women and children. A Cambodian enterprise Iron Fish is promoting this simple innovation through transferring part of revenues from selling fish in the western markets and collaborating with local NGOs.
Digital media company Khmerload, helped put Cambodia on the radar when the company received a $200,000 investment from California-based venture capital seed fund 500 Startups, effectively becoming the first local company to receive funding from Silicon Valley.
With production costs rising in China, manufacturers are looking at less costly places in which to diversify their factory investments, in particular to the ASEAN-CLMV countries – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
(Disclaimer: All information quoted here is linked to the respective source articles)
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