Key figures of the country’s startup community gathered yesterday in Phnom Penh to share their views on how the local startup sector should be regulated, as well as the challenges that digital disruption may pose to the local economy.
Dubbed ‘startup policy hack’, the workshop was held at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, bringing together more than 100 sector insiders, including entrepreneurs, economists, investors and government officials, as well as representatives of telecommunications companies, development organisations and business incubators.
The event has been hailed by the government as playing a crucial role in guiding the country’s transition to a digital economy and supporting local entrepreneurs and innovators.
Its agenda was built around five key areas of discussion – paying taxes, accessing funding, the role of the government, the regulatory framework, and business coaching.
“We ask all relevant stakeholders to encourage the creation of more startups. Tech-talented young people with their own startups can help us change our economy,” said Kan Channmeta, Secretary of State at the ministry, during the event.
“Startups can play an important role in boosting the economy and the development of the nation, as well as attracting investors to the country.”
Mr Channmeta announced that the government’s start-up policy for 2018-2023 will be ready before July’s general election, coming into effect once the new government is formed.
He said the upcoming policy plan for the sector will help local entrepreneurs achieve regional and international standards.
“We are paying special attention to securing funding, developing talent, as well as research and development,” he said.
According to Mr Channmeta, between 2008 to 2014, US and European investors spent more than $11.8 billion buying startups in Asia. $2.6 billion of that sum was spent in Southeast Asia alone, particularly in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.
“Unfortunately, Cambodia is not included in these statistics, as no local startup was acquired by overseas corporations. We hope that with our new policy we can make local companies more attractive to foreign investors,” he said.
Ray Rithy, creator of the iPromise App, who attended the event, told Khmer Times that the most challenging part of starting his own business in Cambodia has been the relatively small size of the market, as well as registering the business, accessing finance and hiring competent staff.
His application helps parents manage parenting-related activities and information, such as school appointments or visits to healthcare providers.