Cambodia Investment Review

E120: Ee Ling Lim’s on Democratizing Entrepreneurial Mentorship & Skills for Frontier Markets

E120: Ee Ling Lim’s on Democratizing Entrepreneurial Mentorship & Skills for Frontier Markets

Cambodia Investment Review

In episode 120 of the Rising Giants podcast, hosts Max and Dom had the opportunity to explore the depth of entrepreneurial insights with Ms. Ee Ling Lim, a notable figure in the global startup ecosystem. As the Co-Founder of Smarter Me and Executive Director of Market Launch at 500 Global, Lim is at the forefront of fostering innovation and entrepreneurial talent worldwide. Her journey from investment banking to leading international startup programs offers a compelling narrative on the transformative power of entrepreneurship.

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Lim’s professional transition from investment banking to entrepreneurship embodies a narrative familiar to many in the Asian context, where the initial career paths are often traditional. Reflecting on her shift, Lim remarked, “I found myself gravitating towards the dynamic energy of founders. The process and data sets of banking became monotonous, and I craved the fulfillment that seemed only possible through entrepreneurship.” This realization led her to the education sector, where she aimed to make a lasting impact.

Democratizing Entrepreneurial Skills For Generation Z in Frontier Markets

Smarter Me, co-founded by Lim, and the Young Founders Summit, are central to her mission of democratizing entrepreneurial skills for Generation Z. The Young Founders Summit, evolving from a B2C to a B2B and B2G model, now collaborates with over 12 countries, focusing on empowering high school students to launch startups. Lim emphasized the importance of the journey over the destination, stating, “Our focus isn’t merely on the startups launched but on the sustained impact these young individuals can have on the ecosystem.”

When discussing the qualities sought in young founders, Lim highlighted a unique blend of passion and obsession as critical traits. “We look for individuals who are not just passionate but obsessed with solving a problem. It’s this blend of heart and drive that we believe can make a real difference,” she explained. This approach underpins the mentorship and coaching provided, ensuring these young entrepreneurs are prepared for the challenges of the business world.

Ee Ling Lim.
Ee Ling Lim.

Lim shared her extensive experience in building startup ecosystems in emerging markets, stressing the importance of a supportive infrastructure. She outlined six pillars essential for a thriving startup ecosystem: Government, Startup Performance, Market Reach, Talent, Platforms, and Investment. “These elements are critical for nurturing startups, making it imperative for us to add value to these pillars wherever possible,” Lim said. She also pointed out the significant role of mobile payments in driving innovation, particularly in Southeast Asia, where adoption has surged post-COVID-19.

Introducing Accelerator Models To Frontier Markets Like Cambodia

Addressing the diversity of founder profiles across different markets, Lim observed distinct variations ranging from tech-enabled ventures led by older founders to technology startups by younger individuals educated abroad. “The risk appetite varies greatly across cultures. In markets like Korea and Japan, for instance, cultural emphasis on stability and legal implications of business debts significantly influence entrepreneurial ventures,” she noted, underscoring the complexities of global markets.

Read More: Unpacking Cambodia’s Startup & Venture Capital Ecosystem – Insights from ANGKOR 500

Lim also shared reflections on the challenges faced by accelerators in frontier markets, such as Cambodia, where the stage of the ecosystem requires a portfolio of innovative models. In Some ecosystems, corporate innovation and venture builder models could be more suited to drive the creation, adoption, and growth of new technologies.

Closing the conversation, Lim shared her personal philosophy and routines that contribute to her well-being and professional efficiency. From morning journaling to prioritizing mentorship and therapy, her practices emphasize a balanced approach to life. She encapsulated her outlook with poignant advice, “Remind yourself of the possibilities – ‘What if you fly?’ It’s about how you react to situations, not just what happens.”

Listen to the full episode here.

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