SMARTSPARK (Environment)

Do you have an innovative solution or prototype that solves Cambodia’s environmental challenges, especially single-use plastic waste?


SmartSpark Cohort 6 is now looking for Cambodian youths ages from 18-30 who are passionate about solving social issues in Cambodia through entrepreneurship. In this cohort, we focus on SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production, SDG13: Climate Action, and SDG14: Life Below Water.

We want the Cambodian teams/individuals who not only has ideas but the commitment and passion to kickstart their startup. SmartSpark is a chance for them to become an impactful social entrepreneur AND to win USD3000 through our program.


What is SmartSpark?

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 10-week incubation to support young people with innovative ideas tackling social and environmental issues in Cambodia. The aim is to help them turn creative ideas into viable businesses and innovative solutions!

Who is it for?

  • Aspiring entrepreneurs at the “idea stage,” who are motivated and equipped to test the feasibility of their idea to solve a social or environmental issue
  • You are Cambodian aged between 18 to 30 years old
  • You can apply as an individual or as a team (up to 4 members)
  • You can commit to working on your business idea at least part-time (evenings and some weekends are required)
  • You speak both Khmer and English

What is the aim?

At the end of SmartSpark, each team will have developed and tested an innovation capable of solving environmental problems, especially plastic waste, and have designed and tested a business model to effect this impact for users/customers. Participants will also develop their personal skills in leadership, team building, personal responsibility, and creativity.

Judging Criteria


  • Your idea must solve a problem related to SDG 11, SDG 12, SDG 13, SDG14, and/or SDG15
  • 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


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.

From this sixth cohort, we are looking for innovations that address challenges in environmental challenges, especially single-use plastics:

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
SDG 13: Climate Action
SDG 14: Life Below Water
SDG 15: Life on Land

What will participants get from the program?

During this program, participants can have access to:

  • Impact Hub’s Innovation Garage
  • Impact Hub’s networks
  • A dedicated Impact Hub mentor
  • Structured workshops to develop and test their idea
  • The opportunity to pitch their innovative idea


Workshops: A series of 6 workshops will be held once a week, starting in the middle of August. These masterclasses cover entrepreneurship, social & environmental impact, and leadership. Expert speakers and well-known entrepreneurs will be sharing their industry experience and advice.

Mentoring: In addition, each team will be matched with a personal mentor who will provide 1-on-1 industry-driven advice and support throughout the program. 

Pitching Day: At the end of the 6 weeks of workshops, all teams will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges and audience who will select one winner.

The winning team will receive $3,000 to continue to work on and grow their startup, as well as continued support from Impact Hub Phnom Penh. 


Looking for inspiration?

  1. Watch the videos of the teams from Cohort 3 on EnvironmentCohort 4 on Sustainable Cities, Jobs and Industries and Cohort 5 on Social Welfare 
  2. Or visit all the previous SmartSpark winners’ Facebook pages to learn more: Inclusion+,  Compost CityTinky Bike, Eco-Bricks
  3. Ideate with friends or at home using this template guide for idea generation.
  4. Do more research into the national and international businesses tackling these SDGs.
  5. Explore these Cambodian based and International ventures making an impact in SDGs on www.csdgs.orgCambodia Startups that are working on this topic: Tinky Bike, Compost City, Dai Khmer, Green Lady, Eco-Bricks , Young Eco Ambassado


What is a Prototype?

A basic model or example of your product or service created for the purpose of learning about your customers’ preferences. They are built to test an assumption* or idea quickly and cheaply so that you can seek improvements or make possible changes to direction in innovation early on.

A prototype can be anything that takes a physical form – a sketch on paper, a video of how your idea works, a model of your product, a role play of your service, a landing page of your website etc. Prototyping gets ideas out of your head and into the world. They help you learn because they allow your customers to interact with your idea, which can help eliminate guesswork and subjectivity from just conversations alone.

However, they are not a completed or ready product/service because they are not your final design. Instead, they are a way to find out what doesn’t work early on–so as to allow you to spend your time and money on solutions that do work.

*An assumption is something that you think to be the case, even without proof.

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