Cambodian telco launches $5m fund for local tech startups

By: Logan Connor - Posted on: March 28, 2017 | Business

The Smart Axiata Digital Innovation Fund will provide guidance and business development – as well as investments ranging from $25,000 to $500,000 – to Cambodian startups in the digital service sector  

Cambodian telecommunications firm Smart Axiata has launched a $5m fund that will provide investment to Cambodian businesses dedicated to digital technology.

The Smart Axiata Digital Innovation Fund, devised through a partnership with investment firm Mekong Strategic Partners, will provide marketing, business development and financial assistance to selected companies that operate in tech-minded industries such as digital advertising, e-commerce and financial technology (fintech).

Individual investments will range from $25,000 to $500,000, depending on the receiving startup’s stage of development, industry and funding requirements.

Speaking at the Tuesday launch of the fund at Phnom Penh’s Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra hotel, Smart Axiata CEO Thomas Hundt painted digital services as a harbinger of progress for the growing economy of Cambodia.

“The rapid introduction of smartphones and the willingness to embrace new apps and services are the coming strides towards a digital future,” he said. “This will result in Cambodia accessing the internet and interacting anytime, anywhere, leading to increased efficiency and connectivity.”

Digital technology has continued to spread throughout Cambodia in recent years. A report released in December 2016 by the Asia Foundation and Open Institute found that almost half of Cambodians own at least one smartphone. The same report also found that Facebook had surpassed television as the country’s most popular source of news.