04/11/2019 – Six promising Cambodian agriculture startups have been selected to join the Dakdam Incubator program, which is run by Impact Hub Phnom Penh, HEKS Cambodia and the Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation (SDC) Cambodia. The six startups were chosen based on their merits and strengths in entrepreneurship, leadership skills, depth of understanding of the problems at hand, quality and viability of potential solutions validated by the market, strategic planning and scalability. The incubation phase for the startups will run from October 2019 through April 2020, and during this time period they will receive extensive mentoring and coaching, attend workshops and build networks and connections.
The aptly named Dakdam Incubator – dakdam means to plant a seed – is a 7-month long agriculture incubation program tailored for entrepreneurs with agriculture-focused prototypes or businesses that are both environmentally friendly and have the ability to positively impact Cambodia’s agriculture sector. The incubation program is designed to assist and nurture agriculture startups as they develop viable, responsible business models that propel their products and solutions to the market. Ultimately the startups, under the guidance of the Dakdam Incubator program, will help small-holder farmers – and in particular the women – increase incomes, reduce costs and improve resilience.
Melanie Mossard, director of venture support at Impact Hub Phnom Penh, said that a total of 65 teams applied to join the incubation program in September. She further added that through the pitching session, and after the passionate debate between the judges, they finally agreed on the six teams to award the US$5,000 funding and intensive support to.
The startups chosen to participate in the incubation program are Saart Mushroom, Camkaseka, Reacheny, De Lotusia Enterprise, Smart Farm Assistance and Junlen. All six were chosen for the incubation program will receive up to US$7,500 in grant funding. Additionally, they will gain access to workshops conducted by topic experts, personal mentors that will guide and support their personal development, extensive coaching from industry and sector experts that are tailored to their needs, and access to Impact Hub’s network, both national and international, for forming strategic connections and business partnerships.
The startups will also get on-the-ground support as the incubation program will give important advice on how to conduct regular field trips, besides helping them to analyze results that come from the testing of their prototype and business models with farmers. There will also be demo days where each of the startups are given an opportunity to showcase their business to investors, partners and the general public so that they can build exposure and increase awareness.
After six months of incubation, all of the startup teams will compete again over their business plans in order to choose the best team. The incubation program will then connect the startup with investors.
Norng Sivouthan, country director of HEKS Cambodia, said: “I feel confident that the teams will have a positive impact on smallholder farmers in Cambodia. I am happy that we found the winning teams based on their innovation and viable business models providing potential benefits to Cambodian farmers. We know their journey to success will face challenges and hope they can continue to move forward towards their dreams.”
Ms. Mossard further commented that Dakdam Incubator is excited to see the progress, the passion and the commitment of the chosen teams over the last 2 months. The incubation program will continue to provide crucial support and mentoring for these local agriculture startups during the coming months so that they are able to strengthen their business and entrepreneurship skills, and as a result help Cambodia’s agriculture sector to grow and thrive.