Cambodian telecom Smart Axiata announced a new partnership yesterday with the Asia Foundation to support their Tekhub initiative and help develop the country’s startup ecosystem.
Tekhub, a project jointly developed by the Asia Foundation and local co-working space Impact Hub Phnom Penh, currently hosts three startups that have access to mentoring, networking and business management coaching, as well as office space.
According to Silas Everett, country manager of the Asia Foundation, Smart’s support will include direct financial and incubation support. He explained that Tekhub provided an important space for startups in Cambodia, though it was only a part of a larger solution for the greater development of the Kingdom’s technology ecosystem.
“I think the biggest part of it is the ability to identify angel investors and other people who really want to invest themselves in seeing the startups grow,” he said. “It is really about people and resources to help startups grow, so it does not necessarily need to have a physical space to be successful in helping to grow startups.”
Everett explained that Tekhub’s main goal was to work with startups that were already relatively advanced and pushing towards profitability. The initiative launched last December with three local startup projects: Codingate, a software development company, WEduShare, a scholarship opportunity sharing platform, and Tao Ventures, a social media strategy consulting firm. More startups have already signed up to join the program.
“Our major KPI [key performance index] or the thing that we are looking at is revenue growth,” he said. “Tekhub is for ventures that have already set out on the road for their business, so they already have a certain amount of staff, they already have a business plan in place and they already have a service or product that they are selling.”
Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata, said during the event that his company was working to spread digitisation and technology in Cambodia. He added that it was not unreasonable to expect that Cambodian startups could soon achieve success, even on an international scale.
“For us, it is another milestone in our mission to build an ecosystem in Cambodia, which is driving towards a digital Cambodia,” he said. “We want to support the incubator territory in Cambodia and we want to facilitate people having ideas, coming out and developing them into technology.”
He added that in five or six years it was conceivable that something in the ilk of Facebook could come out of Cambodia.