The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everything and everybody: business owners, students, doctors, etc. As we move forward, how can we use our lessons learned from the pandemic to build more resilience and robust Cambodia? 

In SmartSpark Cohort 8, we are working on innovative ideas that will solve problems created by the pandemic while also future-proofing Cambodia from future outbreaks and emergencies.

We Are Working on These Question Below

  • How to be sustainable during COVID-19 and the future ahead?
  • How to help people receive decent work and economic growth in the new normal?
  • What is the innovation or solution that helps people cope with the new normal brought by the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • What tech solutions do you want to see to help improve convenience and safety for Cambodian citizens?
  • How do we build the skills needed for the jobs in the new normal and the future?
  • How do we improve the efficiency and automation of Cambodian businesses and infrastructure?


SmartSpark is a startup program to introduce the key concepts of social entrepreneurship to people with the ambition of turning their innovative idea into a business that will tackle Cambodia’s biggest challenges.

This program is brought to Cambodian youths by Smart Axiata and Impact Hub Phnom Penh. It is an intensive 3-month incubation to support young people with innovative ideas tackling social and environmental issues in Cambodia, especially issues around the Sustainable Development Goals. The aim is to help them turn creative ideas into viable businesses and innovative solutions!

What are the SDGs?

Each of the SmartSpark cohorts will focus on a different set of Sustainable Development Goals  (SDGs). The SDGs were developed by the United Nations (UN). They bring focus and unity to the many different people and organisations acting globally to bring about positive change, like Sustainable Cities and Communities or Gender Equality. Cambodia is one of 193 countries that has adopted the SDGs.

Our theme is “Building Resilience in the New Normal”. We are looking for innovations that can be a part of building a resilient response system to the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic in Cambodia. It can be about mental health, upskilling or sustainable jobs/income, infrastructure, or other innovations that you might think of. 

SmartSpark cohort 8 is focused on the four SDGs mentioned below but not limited to other SDGs. 

SDG 1: No Poverty
SDG 5: Gender Equality
SDG 8: Decent work and Economic growth
SDG 10:  Reduced Inequalities

How did it start?

SmartSpark Cohort 8 was launched in June 2021.

We have found 10 teams of aspiring entrepreneurs who completed the SmartSpark program and took on SDG 1: No Poverty, SDG 5: Gender Equality, SDG 8: Decent work and Economic growth, SDG 10:  Reduced Inequalities

What will they get from the program?

  • During this program, they will have access to:
    • Impact Hub’s space to run your meeting/event ( based on the COVID-19 situation in Cambodia)
    • Impact Hub’s Network
    • A dedicated Impact Hub mentor and other requested mentors
    • Structured workshops to develop and test your idea
    • The opportunity to pitch your innovative idea

    At the end of the program, they will have the opportunity to pitch your idea to a panel of judges and audience. One team will be selected to receive $3,000 from Smart Axiata to launch their business idea, as well as receiving ongoing support from Impact Hub Phnom Penh.

    They will go through this intensive program alongside fellow changemakers also passionate about strengthening Cambodia’s cities, jobs, and infrastructure for a more resilient future. We believe that having multiple people working on similar challenges will help strengthen you all as you offer each other motivation, feedback, and support.


Looking for Inspiration?

    1. Watch the videos of the teams from Cohort 3 on Environment, Cohort 4 on Sustainable Cities, Jobs and Industries and Cohort 5 on Social Welfare (Live Show), Cohort 6 on Environment (Live Show Part 1 & Part 2), and SmartSpark 7 Liveshow.
    2. Or visit all the previous SmartSpark winners’ Facebook pages to learn more: Inclusion+Compost City, Tinky Bike, Eco-Bricks, Green Terrace, and [SmartSpark8 winner]
    3. Ideate with friends or at home using this course (How to Build A Startup) as your assistant.
    4. See some existing COVID-19 response ideas and solutions from #HacKHtheCirsis hackathon. Here are the videos.
    5. Do more research into the national and international businesses tackling these SDGs.
    6. Explore these Cambodian based and International ventures making an impact in SDGs on 

    Cambodia startups, businesses, and initiatives that are working on this topic or the focus SDGs: Agile, MeetDoctor, Kokopon, Sepak, Cambodia Knits, Dai Khmer, Green Lady, Nham24, Joonak, Wapatoa, and Impact Hub Phnom Penh’s Online Learning Platform


1. What will they learn?

Week 0: “Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship”. You’re a changemaker and you (don’t) know it! You’ll first start the Smartspark journey by reflecting on your personal story and why you are passionate about solving this problem. – What is a social enterprise &  how can you use this type of business to positively impact society?


Week 1: “Building a strong team and identifying the root causes of the problem”.  Understanding your team members’ strengths, weaknesses, and working styles to build a high-performing team.  Reflection on the problem tree to identify the root causes of the problem and make sure that you are solving the real problem for customers or the market.


Week 2: “Market Research and Customer Persona” – Learn techniques to do effective primary & secondary market research and build a relevant empathy map for effective customer discovery & market analysis. 


Week 3: “Creating Innovative Solution and Rapid Prototyping” – Understanding the concept of design thinking. Tips to get creative and think outside of the box.  Techniques to do rapid prototyping and constructing Minimum Viable Product (MVP).


Week 4: “Business Model Canvas” – Building strong Value Propositions &  identifying the right Business Model to sustain your business. Hands-on practice in building the Business Model Canvas.


Week 5: “Startup branding and tools”. Understand the concept of branding and learn the technology tools to create a remarkable, strong, and effective brand for your business without having to spend much money.


Week 6: “Partnership, Project Management & Financial Planning” – Do stakeholder analysis, build connections and strong networks to support your startup, and prepare your strategic roadmap.  Learn and utilize various project management tools and introduction to startup financial projection.


Week 7: “Video Making” – Explore the tools and techniques to create an effective video to tell the story about your business and reach out to your audiences digitally. Learn how to make a 1:30 minutes promotional video to promote your business idea to the public. Bonus: your video will be posted on the Impact Hub Phnom Penh and Smart For Cambodia’s page, which has large viewers and fan base.

Week 8: “Marketing and Pitching” –  Learn about various offline and online marketing strategies and how to establish a strong presence. Gather the tools and opportunity to practice building a powerful pitch deck and present your idea through an effective and engaging pitch to get potential stakeholders and customers on board.

2.Who can apply?

Aspiring entrepreneurs at the idea stage, ready and motivated to test the feasibility of their idea to solve a social or environmental issue.

  • You are Cambodian and aged 18 to 30 years old
  • You can apply as an individual or as a team (up to 4 members)
  • You want to test the feasibility of your business idea
  • You can commit to working on your idea at least part-time (evenings and some weekends are required)
  • You speak both Khmer and English

3. What are the judging criteria?

  • Your idea must solve a problem related to SDG1, SDG 5, SDG8 and/or SDG 10
  • Your idea must be innovative
  • You must clearly show motivation and drive to turn your idea into a viable business model
  • No experience in business or startup required

4. What are the dates of the training and how much time will I need to dedicate to this program?

This program offers a full curriculum, so you need to be available for all of the training workshops and events. You are also making a commitment to your team and your cohort to show up and contribute at every session.


The dates are:

Saturday 14th August 2021 (2 pm – 4 pm)

Saturday 21st August 2021 (2 pm – 4 pm)

Wednesday 25st August 2021 (6 pm – 8 pm)

Saturday 28th August 2021 (2 pm – 4 pm)

Saturday 04th September 2021 (2 pm – 4 pm)

Saturday 11th September 2021 (2 pm – 4 pm)

Saturday 18th September 2021 (2 pm – 4 pm)

Saturday 25th September 2021 (2 pm – 4 pm)

Thursday 14th October 2021 (5 pm-9 pm) (Final Pitch)

Monday 18th October 2021 (6 pm-8 pm)

**All right served by organizer**


To get the most out of the program you will be spending at least 12 hours per week on your startup idea.

5. Is the program conducted online or offline?

Due to the covid situation in Phnom Penh and Cambodia is still a concern, the program will be conducted online for now. However, if the situation is safe for us to do it offline, the program will be conducted offline at Impact Hub Phnom Penh.

6. How to apply?

Apply before midnight on Sunday, July 18 using the application form here. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed between the 19th to 21st of July, and successful teams will be invited to join the program on Saturday 14th August.


If you have any questions about the application process or SmartSpark please get in touch with [email protected] or [email protected] or call 015 674 048

Stay up to date with Impact Hub Phnom Penh’s Facebook page here or Smart for Cambodia’s Facebook here.

Deadline July 18 [11:59 PM]

Our Previous Winners

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