More VCs, talent development to support Cambodia's startup ecosystem

More VCs, talent development to support Cambodia's startup ecosystem

Key areas for improvement include higher funding.

Increased funding in terms of venture capital and developmental support are amongst the key areas to drive Cambodia’s startup ecosystem as compared to its Asian counterparts.

Thierry Tea, Vice President of The Overseas Cambodian Investment Corporation (OCIC) said that insufficient VC presence and limited talent development are the main challenges hindering the growth of Cambodia’s startup environment.

Tea explained that unlike more established markets like Singapore, which boasts over a thousand VCs, Cambodia has just begun to foster its own ecosystem with approximately 20 VCs.

To bridge these gaps, Tea emphasised the need for more established VCs and improved support systems, such as incubators and accelerators, which would support in nurturing the talents growing within the country. "We need more mentoring, coaching, and organisational support to develop these talents," he added.

Tea highlighted the government’s efforts in establishing Khmer Enterprise under the Ministry of Economy and Finance. This initiative aims to support small and medium enterprises as well as startups. Additionally, international organisations like Global 500 and Impact Hub are making significant contributions by supporting early-stage founders.

OCIC is also playing a critical role in this development by focusing on the next generation of entrepreneurs. "Our efforts include the creation of the Connexion Community Hub, a 49,000 square metre facility that offers a mix of work, live, play, and learn environments," Tea described. This hub will house an innovation centre, investment funds, and business centres aimed at fostering the growth of startups.

Moreover, OCIC is actively developing networks both within and outside Cambodia, connecting local talents and startups with family offices and institutional investors across Asia, North America and Europe. "We recently brought Google Cloud from Google Asia Pacific to Cambodia to support the tech ecosystem, through initiatives like Cambodia Tech Catalyst which we launched in collaboration with Google and Impact Hub," Tea detailed.

Tea also pointed out the critical factors needed to fast-track the growth of emerging industries in Cambodia. These include enhancing education to improve skills, providing access to technology and resources, integrating into regional and international networks to expand customer bases, and increasing funding and investment.

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