Cambodia Investment Review

Give a Day: Human-Centered Design for Entrepreneurs, Intrapreneurs, and ESOs in Cambodia

Give a Day: Human-Centered Design for Entrepreneurs, Intrapreneurs, and ESOs in Cambodia

Harrison White

Give a Day held its 8th edition under the topic of Human-Centered Design for Entrepreneurs, Intrapreneurs, and ESOs featuring keynote speaker Sayphearak Mak and identifying the top reasons startups fail in Cambodia.

Hosted at the Cambodiana Hotel in Phnom Penh on September 30 the program was attended by several stakeholders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem including government agencies, investors, accelerators, and entrepreneurs.

iDE Innovation Lab Design Manager Sayphearak Mak who is passionate about contributing to social and environmental change through co-creating innovations with marginalized communities delivered the keynote speech.

According to Mak, HCD is a systemic method to design innovative solutions to complex problems by putting people at the center of the process.

The 8th edition of Give a Day hosted at the Cambodiana Hotel in Phnom Penh.

“At iDE Innovation Lab, we apply HCD by carefully listening to the needs and aspirations of the customers and users. We then use these insights to, together with our users, iteratively ideate, prototype, test, and refine solutions that improve their livelihoods,” Mak said.

iDE considers the entire user experience from how a solution is executed to how it is promoted, financed, delivered, serviced, and more.

“In essence, HCD is a methodology that gives customers or any actor in the value chain a voice in the products and services they adopt or buy, resulting in higher adoption rates and profitable business models. We co-design with our users, allowing them to create solutions that can change their future,” he added.

HCD assisting Cambodian entrepreneurs

Based on the research “The Top 12 Reasons Startups Fail” by CB Insights in 2021 showed that one of the top most reasons for startup failures is due to a deficit of cash to raise new capital 38% followed by no market need or lack of product-market fit as the second cause (35%).

iDE says no matter how innovative an idea is, there must be demand for the product, and it must meet a genuine need, and resonate with the aspirations of a target segment. Otherwise, the business might have to drop in the middle of the entrepreneurial journey.

To read more about Cambodia’s National Incubation Center for startups click here.

Michel Dauguet WASH Program Director, iDE Cambodia.

“HCD starts with people and ends with innovative solutions that are tailor-made to suit market demand. HCD is not only applied in start-ups but also the corporate world to maintain competitive edges and creativities. The result of applying HCD is to produce solutions at the intersection of desirability, feasibility and viability,” Mak said.

“Many entrepreneurs just fulfill feasibility and viability requirements but forget about desirability. In short, the application of HCD will help entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and those who come up with new initiatives or would like to improve the existing initiatives to reduce the stake of their failures along the entrepreneurial journey by helping them fail earlier in the process, when the costs of doing so are lower, and learn from their failures to develop solutions which are fit-to-context,” he added.

Group discussion on startup fails in Cambodia

Group discussion focused on what were the five main reasons local startups failed as well as how could training in the HCD approach help more Cambodian startups succeed.

Five of the most common reasons startups failed in Cambodia were:

·       Cash flow constraints

·       Not the right team for purpose

·       Lack of access to working capital

·       Registration and taxation issues from the Cambodian government

·       Inexperience in both business and product area

According to the group discussion a focus on HCD was considered as a “common sense” approach to doing business anywhere and in any market and the process can greatly assist startups to map out their business starting from the consumer.

“Many Cambodian startups and younger entrepreneurs lack the foresight to envision their product from inception to end user. Using the HCD framework entrepreneurs can better adjust their initial business plan and reduce the need for changes in late-stage product development,” the group discussion summarized.

Group discussions on why startups fail in Cambodia.

“The successful application of HCD will be dependent on the presence of three main components which are processes, mindsets, and resources. The application of HCD requires a team that has an open mindset to embracing uncertainty and being flexible,” they added.

The Give a Day program is funded by Khmer Enterprise and implemented by USAID’s WE Act Project through Pact Cambodia and Swisscontact. Monthly meetings are designed to create a routine and space through which ESOs can learn more about each other’s work and differentiate their programs.

To read more about the 7th edition of Give a Day in August click here.

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