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Second Ecosystem Builders Network forum focuses on ‘support and financing’ for Cambodian entrepreneurs

Harrison White

The second quarterly Ecosystem Builders Network forum has focused on collaboration for support and financing from government and non-government ecosystem builders that attended the event hosted by Swisscontact, Khmer Enterprise and USAID’s WE Act.

The quarterly meetings create a space through which ecosystem builders and government agencies can share information, foster best practices, identify market gaps and opportunities and explore collaboration or complementarity to strengthen the ecosystem.

The June meeting focused on the support and financing – two of the six Isenberg’s Model of an Entrepreneurship Ecosystem pillars that are considered vital to developing Cambodia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The half-day forum hosted at Hotel Cambodiana was attended by 36 stakeholders from 17 different organizations including both government and non-governmental agencies. 

Attendees map the services they offer entrepreneurs.

Rajiv Pradhan the Country Director at Swisscontact in Cambodia who has over 25 years of experience working with the private and the development sector led the forum.

Pradhan directed the various agencies to map their support and financing options so the community can better understand what each builder can assist with and then break into a one-on-one discussion to establish further connections.

The initiative aims to address the common challenges that many agencies have overlapping programs and could use resources to achieve greater returns.

The continued need for collaboration

Opening remarks from Khmer Enterprise CEO Dr. Vanmunin Chhieng clarified the need for continued collaboration and better information sharing between the builders to ensure the best possible return on investment.

“The sector may not have many players but there are many programs that sometimes cross over in both agenda and timing and the Ecosystem Builders Network is designed to connect those stakeholders to bring more collaboration and information sharing in the ecosystems,” he said.

“Our first meeting had 21 attendees from 13 organizations and the increasing number of participants today highlights the importance of networking for the ecosystem,” he added.

Khmer Enterprise CEO Dr. Vanmunin Chhieng.

Khmer Enterprise and the business strategy and development company Aquarii Cambodia recently formalized a strategic partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding. To read more about the initiative click here.

Pact Cambodia Country Director and WE Act Chief of Party Sabine Joukes has told Cambodia Investment Review the forums were overall aiming to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurs who will get the support, access to services, and information they need to thrive in their businesses.

“By bringing together the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem actors to share our learning we will be better able to address specific needs and give tailored solutions to address issues,” Joukes said.

“I acknowledge the wonderful collaboration with Khmer Enterprise and Swiss Contact that make these events happen, we have a joint vision of creating a strong and supportive ecosystem to strengthen entrepreneurs, their businesses, and in turn the Cambodian economy,” she added.

Give a Day and Ecosystem Builders Network

The forum is designed to run in collaboration with 10 monthly workshops designed to improve Cambodia’s Entrepreneurial Support Organizations (ESO) network.

Cambodia’s ESO ecosystem, is broadly defined as groups that support, train, and fund entrepreneurs is still in the nascent stage with many new organizations launched to help nature and develop the sector.

Pact Cambodia Country Director and WE Act Chief of Party Sabine Joukes.

The next Ecosystem Builders Network will be held in September and the annual event bringing both events together will be held in December with over 100 attendees planned.

Developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem is considered key for Cambodia to achieve its aims to reach upper-middle-income status (GNI per capita between $4,036 and $12,475) by 2030 on par with regional neighbors such as Thailand and Malaysia.

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