Startup challenge for youth


11 June 19 - Source: Myanmar Times - Phandeeyar Accelerator will hold its Startup Challenge for budding entrepreneurs at its Innovation Lab from June 29 to July 7.

This year the event explores technology in four main areas: "Tech in Cities," "Tech for Women's Safety," "Fintech" and "Tech for Farms". Youths and organisations are invited participate in the competition, said U Tun Khaing Lin, Tech Community Manager for Phandeeyar.

The challenge is held annually and aims to develop research and use of technology in Myanmar, said Mr Jes Kaliebe Petersen, CEO of Phandeeyar.

"Anyone with an interesting idea, including those who don't have a business plan, can join. Each year we will inspire every competitor with our three words of inspiration: 'build', 'measure' and 'learn'," said Ko Tun Khine.

Competitors will be tasked with creating technology for managing waste disposal and resources in the city; for protecting women from assault; solving financial problems; and creating new products to improve agricultural productivity.

"The idea is to create a business that will help alleviate social an economic problems," said Mr. Joao Dutra.

The nine-day competition was the start of a journey for entrepreneurs. The winners will be given a business strategy from Phandeeyar to help implement their ideas, to achieve success in the real world.

Winners in each category will be awarded US$2500. The first prize is $1500, and a further US$1000 will be presented to the most promising entrepreneur. Winners were also awarded three months access to an office to help develop their businesses, and further training in Phandeeyar's Pre-Accelerator Program.

The Startup Challenge is sponsored by USAID, ADB Ventures, KBZ Pay, Proximity Designs, the Embassy of the Netherlands and LUX.

"At first we were focused on the Smart Yangon project, but we realised that adoption of technology is an issue that people are facing throughout the country," said the Embassy of the Netherlands's senior economic and community officer Ko Ye Wanna Aung.

Talks will given throughout the first eight days of the event, and on the final day teams will give presentations about their entrepreneurial ideas in front of local and international businesspeople. Winners were selected based on these presentations.

"People who have made the effort to participate may see a change in mindset. Parents want their children to become doctors and engineers, but not entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are also important for our society," said Mr Joao Dutra.

"Technology can help people feel safe. It can protect people from violence, invasion of privacy through online theft, for example," said Unilever EAC Myanmar Co Ltd Marketing Director Mr Nipun Talwar.

Established in 2016, Phandeeyar Accelerator is the first startup accelerator initiative in Myanmar. Eight successful entrepreneurs have been supported since its founding, all of whom have gone on to create important products and services with technology.

"In terms of fintech – a relatively new field – programmers and entrepreneurs were able to create products for financial services," said deputy CIO U Sai Lu Mon Aung.

The event was an excellent opportunity for young entrepreneurs to not only showcase their ideas, but to also develop their communication and marketing skills. It is a valuable way to introduce new talent to the market.


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