Smart Axiata and Impact Hub Renew Partnership with 17 Cambodian Universities for Entrepreneurship Advancement
12 June 2024 - Huyly Hour

Smart Axiata and Impact Hub Phnom Penh (IHPP), along with 17 universities across Cambodia, have joined forces in an MoU renewal for SmartStart Unipreneur Learning Platform (ULP) to continue advancing entrepreneurship and leadership in the Kingdom.


The momentous event was presided over by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Youth and Sport, H.E. Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, the Chief Executive Officer of Smart Axiata, Mr. Ziad Shatara, the Chief Executive Officer of IHPP, Ms. Melanie Mossard, and rectors, presidents, and representatives from eight universities in Phnom Penh, four universities in Siem Reap, three universities in Battambang, one in Banteay Meanchey, and one in Svay Rieng.

SmartStart ULP has advanced the momentum for human resource development by providing 1,413 students from 44 classes across 10 universities with relevant experience in their field of study. From this program, 25 startups have emerged with unique ideas to tackle various market demands.

The program addresses key challenges, such as the gap between student skills and job market demands, the lack of an entrepreneurial mindset, and the need for Khmer language curriculum content.

The past four years of SmartStart ULP have yielded significant impacts, setting the stage for a new way of learning. By integrating project-based learning into university curricula, the program has sparked numerous startup ideas with promising entrepreneurial initiatives.

With the partnership expansion of the SmartStart ULP program, Smart and its partners are pioneering a new era of learning.

A photo of 17 universities representative that join MoU signing ceremony in Cambodia.

The renewed MoU with 10 universities, along with the addition of seven new university partners, exemplifies a commitment to expanding educational opportunities, said Ziad Shatara, CEO of Smart Axiata.

“Under our partnership, we will continue fueling the entrepreneurial spirit and bringing forth more innovations by supporting lecturers in delivering blended curricula. With this partnership expansion, we hope to directly engage with more than 2,500 students in over 50 classes by the end of 2024,” he added.

“We look forward to this exciting journey ahead with the 17 universities to build a future where innovation knows no bounds, where creativity and resilience shape the entrepreneurial spirit, and where every graduate is not only a job seeker but an emerging job creator.”

The 17 SmartStart ULP parter universities include the Cambodia Academy of Digital Technology, University of Puthisastra, Royal University of Law and Economics, Build Bright University in Phnom Penh, Build Bright University in Siem Reap, Royal University of Agriculture, Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia Battambang, Angkor University, Svay Rieng University, CamTech, ACLEDA University of Business, Phnom Penh International University, University of South-East Asia, Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia in Siem Reap, Build Bright University in Banteay Meanchey, National University of Battambang and Build Bright University in Battambang.

“I am really excited to see how the program is being embedded as part of their curriculum. As part of our partnership, we provide a dedicated learning platform where students can learn from their mobile phones and laptops,” said Ms. Kim Kosoma, Chief Operating Officer of IHPP.

Students participating in the course gain an in-depth understanding of entrepreneurship, develop their entrepreneurial mindset, and improve their employability and life skills.

“I want to see students who took the course be able to exchange ideas and test out their ideas in the market, through a business competition, that they learned from class,” said Chhoun Phearun, Campus Director of Build Bright University in Siem Reap.


“Basically, it would be beneficial for the students to have some small seed funding for them to kickstart their business idea,”