Cambodia Investment Review
Smart Axiata, Cambodia’s leading mobile operator, awarded a grand prize of $10,000 to a digital startup team KAKVEI following their victory in the SmartStart Young Innovator Program, a digital talent development program initiated by Smart Axiata in cooperation with Impact Hub Phnom Penh with support from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, and Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports.
Established in 2017, the SmartStart Young Innovator Program (YIP) is designed to prepare Cambodian university students to launch their digital startups through unique learning experiences, mentorships, networking and financial support.
To read more about Smart Axiata Group Internships awarded to future digital leaders in SmartEdu USDP program click here.
Smart envisions becoming Cambodia’s digital champion
Acting Chief Executive Officer of Smart Axiata Feiruz Ikhwan said: “We are incredibly proud of how fast SmartStart (YIP) has taken off since its first cycle in 2017. At Smart, we envision becoming Cambodia’s digital champion. We believe that brilliant minds will emerge from SmartStart (YIP) with great potential, and they will go on to become young digital entrepreneurs who solve social issues and significantly contribute to the country’s development.”
Melanie Mossard, chief executive officer of Impact Hub Phnom Penh, echoed Ikhwan’s optimism.
“Having worked with entrepreneurs and startups in Cambodia for numerous years, I have witnessed the program’s success. Young innovators are encouraged, inspired, and empowered throughout the program to actualize their technology-related startup ideas and unlock their innovative potential,” she said.
The program started with multiple elimination rounds
The 2022 program officially kicked off in June with multiple elimination rounds, including the “hatch” and “digithon” rounds in which participants were exposed to diverse entrepreneurial experiences and ways of thinking. Participants learned how to solve problems using Internet of Things (IoT) technology and pitched their ideas in the Technopreneurship Challenge.
Following the Challenge, five teams were selected to advance to the incubation stage and complete three-month paid internships at local technology startups to gain a better understanding of business. After successfully completing their internships, the five teams went on to the final stage, the Grand Final Pitch, where they competed for a grand prize of 10,000 USD and a fully funded trip to a regional conference.
Business concepts based on customer pain points
The five teams created their own business concepts based on customer pain points. KAKVEI provides an auto-correct technology for Khmer grammar and spelling; Movery aims to provide a better moving service for businesses and households; Homatic offers a smart home-security system that automatically alerts local police; Dolfinn gives users information about loan products and offers direct, personalized consultations; and Berries provides a mobile skincare marketplace for young Cambodians.
KAKVEI took home the grand prize while Berries was rewarded a fully-funded trip to a regional conference.
The SmartStart Young Innovator Program is funded by the Capacity Building Research and Development Fund (CBRD) of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, which Smart Axiata contributes to annually. A vibrant digital lifestyle brand, Smart Axiata has always put digitization at the centre of its business. SmartStart (YIP) is a vehicle for bridging the digital divide, nurturing the next generation of digital leaders. In 2022, a total of 120 students benefitted from the program through hands-on learning and mentoring.