Cambodia Investment Review

Give a Day 23: Cambodia’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Roadmap Consultation Workshop

Give a Day 23: Cambodia’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Roadmap Consultation Workshop

The 23rd edition of Give a Day, held on June 25th, 2024, focused on the “Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Roadmap Consultation Workshop,” marking a significant step in strengthening Cambodia’s entrepreneurial landscape. The event gathered key stakeholders to discuss preliminary findings of the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Roadmap and to collect feedback to refine and validate the roadmap.

The Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Roadmap aims to analyze gaps and opportunities within Cambodia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, guided by the six pillars of the Isenberg model: culture, policy, finance, human capital, market, and support. This roadmap will help prioritize actions to bolster the ecosystem and assist the government and development partners in designing effective programs.

Read More: Give a Day 22: Nurturing Diversity in Cambodia’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Give a Day 23 at Khmer Enterprise HQ on June 25th 2024.

Key Findings and Recommendations

  1. Financial Support and Investment Readiness The roadmap identifies a critical need for more investment-focused programs and improved access to traditional financing sources. Entrepreneurs have highlighted the necessity for alternative financing options tailored to startups’ unique requirements. There is a call for innovative financing options, particularly for early-stage and operational SMEs, to help them become investment-ready and sustainable. Blended finance and other instruments to support SMEs are recommended, along with the formation of a working group to design customized financial products.
  2. Human Capital Development Tailored training and mentorship programs are essential, particularly for early-stage startups. The roadmap underscores the importance of integrating entrepreneurial skills into educational institutions to better prepare future entrepreneurs. A public-private partnership on nationwide entrepreneurship training programs is recommended to cater to different stages of entrepreneurial development. The roadmap also suggests linking entrepreneurial studies to high school curriculums.
  3. Policy and Regulatory Environment Enhancing policies to support entrepreneurship is a priority. Recommendations include targeted tax incentives for SMEs and startups, streamlined business registration, and simplified tax filing processes. The roadmap suggests the creation of an inter-ministerial committee to develop cohesive policies that support startups and expand their market reach regionally and internationally. Policies should aim to incentivize rather than penalize entrepreneurs.
  4. Market Access and Business Development Ensuring accessible markets for products and services is a major focus. Participants discussed the need for better market entry strategies and support mechanisms to help entrepreneurs scale their businesses. Establishing a national market expansion program and facilitating connections to international markets through grants for participating in global exhibitions are among the suggested actions. SMEs need better support to understand export documentation and compliance requirements.
  5. Support Mechanisms The roadmap calls for creating a “Business Starter Package” for newly registered SMEs, providing relevant information, data collection on business needs, and integration of a chatbot for assistance. There is also a recommendation to promote entrepreneurial culture, emphasizing the value of investing in learning and innovation. Support programs should include successful entrepreneurs as trainers to enhance the program’s appeal and effectiveness. Synergy between existing programs and support from development partners like TSC and KE is crucial.
  6. Cultural Shift Promoting an entrepreneurial culture in Cambodia is essential. The roadmap highlights the need to introduce entrepreneurship to high school students and promote impact stories from different programs. There is a recommendation for participants to contribute financially to ensure commitment to the programs. Senior entrepreneurs should be engaged as part of the training programs to attract more participants and encourage financial commitment.
Give a Day 23 at Khmer Enterprise HQ on June 25th 2024.

Q&A and Group Discussions

During the Q&A session, participants raised several critical issues and provided valuable input. One participant questioned the emphasis on penalties, particularly taxation, for entrepreneurs. The response highlighted the need for a balanced approach, emphasizing compliance while also providing programs that incentivize entrepreneurs.

Concerns were raised about integrating entrepreneurship into high school curriculums, with suggestions to create a digital learning platform in Khmer to mitigate potential negative impacts on students’ studies. Clarification was sought on the definition of start-ups and SMEs used in the study, with recommendations to classify based on years of operation to provide more accurate insights.

The lack of positive aspects in market and support programs for SMEs was surprising to some participants, and the group discussion aimed to address these gaps by gathering insights on the recommendations. Participants also discussed the challenges of consistent data collection and the need for customized financial products for SMEs. The roadmap should include impact measurement criteria as a cost of doing business.

Priority Actions Voted by ESOs

The group discussion led to voting on priority actions for each domain. For policy, the focus was on tax exemption for start-ups for at least three years and the creation of an inter-ministerial mechanism to oversee start-up policies. In finance, the introduction of innovative financing options tailored for start-ups and early operational SMEs was prioritized.

Read More: Khmer Enterprise Launches “NextGen Enterprise” – A Transformative Entrepreneurship and Business Development Program

For support, the development of a “Business Starter Package” for newly registered SMEs was emphasized. In human capital, the establishment of a public-private partnership for nationwide entrepreneurship training programs was recommended. Promoting entrepreneurial culture and the value of investing in learning and innovation was a key priority under culture.

Lastly, creating a national market expansion program or including market components within existing programs was highlighted for market development.

Give a Day 23 at Khmer Enterprise HQ on June 25th 2024.

Detailed Discussions on Priority Actions

Ministries should coordinate to support start-ups, with universities offering start-up majors, and expanding markets to regional and international levels is essential. Potential organizations should promote entrepreneurial culture, possibly introducing front payments to ensure program commitment.

Government agencies should co-create the business starter package, including standard definitions and key data. The Ministry of Education should link entrepreneurial studies to high school programs. Ministries in charge of export markets should support SMEs with export knowledge, while development partners provide grants for international exhibitions. A working group should design innovative financial products, considering local contexts and leveraging blended finance.

The roadmap development strategy focuses on fostering collaboration among various stakeholders, including government agencies, development partners, and ESOs. The strategy involves creating a multi-stakeholder roadmap that guides collective efforts to strengthen Cambodia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Give a Day has outlined a series of events for 2024, including workshops and collaborative sessions on themes such as impact management, transparency, and gender lens investing. These events aim to attract a diverse network of ecosystem actors and provide a stable venue for future collaborations.

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