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Mekong accelerators launched

Released at: 14:24, 14/02/2017

Mekong accelerators launched

Photo: MBI

Two tourism accelerators introduced, one for startups and one for more mature enterprises in Mekong Sub-region.

by Doanh Doanh

The Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST) Initiative has announced two new accelerators designed to make it easier and faster for innovative tourism businesses to get underway in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

The MIST Startup Accelerator will take entries from early stage companies with either travel technology or traditional tourism business plans. The MIST Market Access Accelerator, meanwhile, welcomes applications from mature international tourism startups needing assistance entering the region. Applications for both accelerators will close on March 19.

“The MIST accelerator programs give a leg up to tourism investments that create jobs, help local communities, and support entrepreneurship, especially for women,” said Mr. Dominic Mellor, senior Asian Development Bank economist and head of the Mekong Business Initiative.

Applicants must demonstrate how they will create jobs, generate a positive community impact, and contribute to sustainable tourism growth in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

Founders accepted into the MIST Startup Accelerator will attend mini bootcamps to further develop their business plans. The top business plans for each country market will win MIST Innovation Grants, with the best overall receiving $10,000 and the three runners-up receiving $7,000.

MIST Market Access Accelerator participants will join familiarization tours of relevant Mekong Region markets. Through these tours, they will receive coaching, custom market insights, and introductions to supplier networks and relevant stakeholders.

Participants in both MIST accelerators will pitch their plans to investors, global acceleration programs, and tourism leaders at the Mekong Tourism Forum held in June in Luang Prabang, Laos, and the APEC Summit in November in Da Nang. In-country teams will provide additional advisory services tailored to participants’ business needs.

“The Great Mekong Sub-region is among the fastest growing tourism destinations on earth,” said Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office. “Startups can disrupt traditional practices to adapt to changing consumer behaviors, but let’s also encourage responsible innovation that enhances the region’s appeal for future generations.”

MIST is a joint venture between the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office and the Mekong Business Initiative. It receives regional funding and advisory and technical support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Australian Government, Amadeus Next, the Pacific Asia Travel Association, and Village Capital. It has been endorsed by young entrepreneur associations and startup groups in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

MBI is an advisory facility that promotes private sector development in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. It fosters the development of the innovation ecosystems by supporting business advocacy, alternative finance, and innovation. It is supported by the Asian Development Bank and the Australian Government.

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