Remarks by Polly Dunford, Mission Director, USAID Cambodia, EPIC Incubator Demo Day

Saturday, January 14, 2017
EPIC Incubator Demo Day
EPIC Incubator Demo Day
Development Innovations Cambodia
  • Ms. Laura Smitheman, Head of Programs and Innovation, Impact Hub Phnom Penh
  • Ms. Kate Heuisler, Chief of Party, Development Innovations Project
  • Representatives of cooperating private sector partners
  • Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon and welcome to the EPIC Incubator Demo Day! I want to take a moment to recognize the organizers who have worked so hard to make this exciting event possible. I would like to thank Development Innovations, Impact Hub Phnom Penh, as well as other organizations who have supported this initiative. Orkun churran! It is my great pleasure to join you all for this event today.

We are here, on Incubator Demo Day, to see eleven teams present their business ideas to the startup community and interested investors. The top five teams will move on to a full time “accelerator” program where they will receive a budget to build their solutions and receive help from advisors. Impact Hub will also work to connect them to the impact investor network so they can work to secure funding to make the businesses sustainable. Isn’t this cool?! This will be fun!

I am particularly thrilled with the solutions that technology and innovation offer for many of Cambodia’s development challenges. When combined with the energy and creativity of people like you – there’s no limit to what technology can do for Cambodia. That is why we are proud to support information and communication technology development in this country.

We have already seen exciting results from this project. Take Cambodia’s first crowdfunding platform – the TOSFund. It was recently launched by our Development Innovations project, CellCard, and ActionIEC. TOSFund is already being used by organizations and individuals to raise contributions from the public for social development projects. Since its inception in April, TOSFund has raised thousands of U.S. dollars and attracted hundreds of financial backers. Very cool!

I’ll give you another example. The Social Enterprise Cambodia, established by Impact Hub with support from Development Innovations, offers a comprehensive online platform for social enterprises with information in both Khmer and English. It can help you with running your business and features an interactive map showing goods and services from social enterprises across the country. The platform has over 80 enterprises registered and was built on demand from Cambodian investors and across ASEAN to easily connect to Cambodian enterprises.    

Another example includes the “Let’s Talk Money” project launched by World Education in partnership with the National Bank of Cambodia. With support from Development Innovations, this project developed a consumer awareness campaign via Facebook, encouraging young people across Cambodia to start talking about the way they use, manage, and grow money. The campaign has nearly 600,000 Cambodians, and its financial awareness videos have attracted over 200,000 views!

Just last year, the Technovation program trained fourteen teams of girls - between 10 and 18 years old - to develop mobile applications and business ideas to address pressing issues in their communities. All the teams pitched their solutions and business plans in Technovation Cambodia’s National Pitch Event. Four of those teams advanced to the semi-final round, competing with just 80 teams from around the world for the “Global Technovation Challenge” in San Francisco, California. Cool, right?

These are just a few examples. We are confident there will be many more. And some may even be created by those of you here at this event today!

Through the Development Innovations project, we are proud to partner with Impact Hub and to fund a one-year pilot program that helps support Cambodian-based social enterprises interested in using technology as a part of their business. This pilot will test if a startup incubation model in Cambodia could be a sustainable platform and revenue source for Impact Hub Phnom Penh. We’re looking forward to seeing the results!

Once again, I want to thank all of you who took the time to attend this wonderful event. Thank you and have a great time!

Phnom Penh
Issuing Country