Taking Collaboration to the Next Level: UNDP’s Accelerator Labs and Impact Hub Cambodia’s joint efforts

Taking Collaboration to the Next Level: UNDP’s Accelerator Labs and Impact Hub Cambodia’s joint efforts

Entrepreneurship and innovation are fundamental to achieving the SDGs because they provide the creativity and drive that you need to realise something that at first brush seems an impossible dream. The SDGs are hugely ambitious, so to achieve something like that, you need radical ideas with radical people driving them.

This partnership is interesting because we aren’t like each other. UNDP Cambodia has the connections with governments and institutions. Impact Hub then brings something that is young and dynamic, and more in touch with informal networks and systems. And when you bridge those two, there is space for a lot of value creation for entrepreneurs. 

Nick Beresford: Country director- UNDP Cambodia.

The Journey Begins

In 2017, Impact Hub Phnom Penh reached out to the UNDP office in Cambodia to share a project they were running called SDG Fellowship. What started out as a simple endorsement from UNDP soon turned into partnership, with UNDP approaching IH Phnom Penh to jointly work on a project called Sustainable Urban Mobility for All (SUMAI). The Impact Hub helped them design and run their Urban Mobility incubator which took place over a period of 9 months, incubating initiatives which had already been working in sustainable urban mobility. Together they mentored entrepreneurs, built partnerships and connections with ministries, hosted events, and managed the semi-final pitch event.

Involvement with Youth Initiatives

Soon after, Impact Hub and UNDP collaborated on UNDP’s initiative on youth employment, YOUTH Co-lab. This involved running the national dialogue event as well as another project for youth- an online webinar series called “My Job My Future”. The event specifically targeted youth from provinces outside of Phnom Penh who had more limited resources for employment.  

Most recently, Impact Hub joined forces with the Accelerator Lab team from UNDP. Together they worked on a SDG website for Cambodia which is directed towards youth. It raises awareness on the SDGs, gives examples on how to incorporate SDGs into our lives (such as planning small community events), and even opens the floor for youth to the opportunity of submitting their project ideas in exchange for potential kickstarter cash prizes.

What Makes the Impact Hub Unique?

When asked why the UNDP Accelerator Labs were working with Impact Hub, Pagna Ukthaun, once entrepreneur and mentor at Impact Hub Cambodia, now Head of Exploration at the Accelerator Labs replied:

Five or six years ago, no one was talking about social entrepreneurship or sustainable development in a business context at a grassroots or community level. Merging with new players like the IH has allowed UNDP to tap into players, stakeholders, and participants, allowing us to expand our impact further- and is hopefully more effective than if UNDP did it alone.

The Impact Hub’s program design which follows a bottom-up approach and promotion of grassroots innovation has been an asset to the Accelerator Labs. The Labs’ desire to have an open mindset towards fast-tracked innovation, exploration, and trial and error meant that they were keen to learn from the Impact Hub’s successes and failures. Ultimately, the focus of both entities is finding solutions towards the SDGs that are scaleable, sustainable and viable

Looking ahead, we are continuing to evolve together. The pace of change in Cambodia is so fast that it brings up a wealth of challenges and opportunities to engage in. UNDP needs to grapple with those issues, but at the same time keep it grounded by working with Impact Hub and their network of entrepreneurs. 


Nick Beresford: Country director- UNDP Cambodia

To learn more about the work of Impact Hub Cambodia, click here to read their latest report.

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