EME thus joins almost 400 other business incubators around the world in infoDev’s network (see www.idisc.net). infoDev has supported the creation of EME through a grant made under the Finland / infoDev / Nokia program on “Creating Sustainable Businesses in the Knowledge Economy”. The incubator has also benefited from financial support from the IFC which financed an initial feasibility study. The incubator is hosted by a local company, Emerging Markets Consulting (EMC), and its partners include the Royal University for Law and Economics (RULE) and the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Cambodia (YEAC).
Around 150 people took part in the opening, at which infoDev’s Tim Kelly gave the opening address. Other speakers included local entrepreneurs:
- Ms. Kham Sophannary, the founder of Direct Queen, which provides premium ice cream;
- Mr. Chy Sila, the General Director of CBM Corporation, the creator of the #1 online game in Cambodia.
- Mr. Erya Houn Heng, the founder of First Cambodia Company Ltd the #1 System Integrator in Cambodia;
- Mr. Pech Bolene, the Chairman and CEO of Westline Education Group Co., Ltd, an investor in Education, Media, Training, Consulting and Research.
EMC’s Manager, Mr. Gordon Peters, outlined the range of services that the incubator will offer which include business planning and strategy, access to finance, corporate services (including help with registering a company), mentoring and coaching and networking events with other start-ups and seasoned entrepreneurs in the country. Initially, most of these services will be offered on a virtual basis, but there is scope for shared office space if requested by incubatees.
The launch marked the formal opening of the incubator, but EMC's affiliate, EMI, already runs a successful investment fund in Cambodia which has raised US $20m. As shown in the diagram, an initial batch of 136 entrepreneurs or small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been introduced to the business incubator, and the selection process has narrowed this down to five companies that are seen as potential incubatees. Of these five, three are in the agribusiness/food processing field, one in property development and looking to develop an online recruitment agency while the fifth is a cleaning services company. Eventually, the incubator should be able to accommodate up to ten firms at any one time.
Around a quarter of the companies that are currently in dialogue with the incubator are run by women, and this is a particular area of focus for the grant award. It will be used as the platform to launch, in March 2012, the Mekong Women’s Entrepreneurship Challenge, with funding from the Government of Finland. The competition will be run as a pilot program in Lao PDR with the aim of identifying 20-25 women-run businesses for tailored business mentoring. Prizes for women entrepreneurs will also be offered in Vietnam and Cambodia, and Women’s entrepreneurship will be taken up as a theme at the 2013 infoDev Global Forum on Incubation and Technology Entrepreneurship, to be held in South Africa.
The Cambodia incubator is the second of three new incubators to be opened under the Creating Sustainable Businesses program, with funding from the government of Finland. Earlier in November, the Dar Teknohama Business Incubator was opened in Tanzania, and an ICT Incubator in Maputo, Mozambique is in the process of selection. The program has also funded a feasibility study for a new incubator in Nepal as well as work on strengthening business incubation in Vietnam and in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA).