HANOI, 14 February 2017: Startup travel, or travel technology, companies in four Mekong Region nations could win grants to fund their new ventures through a programme backed by the Asian Development Bank.
An Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST) Initiative was announced, Monday, outlining two accelerators designed to make it easier and faster for tourism businesses to get established in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
The so called accelerators provide a channel to fast track the formation of new ventures in the Mekong Region, fine tune business plans and give startups a chance to walk away with a USD10,000 or USD7,000 grant.
The MIST Market Access Accelerator also welcomes applications from mature international firms established in other regions, that now have startup projects that need expertise and assistance to enter the Mekong region.
Both accelerators will close to applications 19 March.
Applicants must demonstrate how they will create jobs, generate positive community impact and contribute to sustainable tourism growth in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, or Vietnam.
“The MIST accelerator programmes gives an helping hand to tourism investors committed to creating jobs and supporting local communities,” explained, senior Asian Development Bank economist and head of the Mekong Business Initiative, Dominic Mellor.
Founders of new ventures who are accepted in the MIST Startup Accelerator will attend mini boot camps to further develop their business plans. The top business plans for each country market will win MIST Innovation grants, with the best overall plan receiving USD10,000 and the three runners-up receiving USD7,000.
MIST Market Access Accelerator participants will join familiarisation 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 programmes will pitch their plans to investors, global acceleration programmes, and tourism leaders at the Mekong Tourism Forum in June (Luang Prabang, Lao PDR) and APEC Summit in November (Danang, Vietnam). In-country teams will provide additional advisory services tailored to participants’ business needs.
MIST is a joint venture of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office and the Mekong Business Initiative. It receives regional funding, advisory and technical support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Government of Australia, Amadeus Next, the Pacific Asia Travel Association, and Village Capital. It has been endorsed by young entrepreneurs associations and startup groups in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
Mekong Business Initiative is an advisory facility that promotes private sector development in Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Myanmar, and Vietnam. It is supported by the Asian Development Bank and the Government of Australia.