Rockstart Impact enters Myanmar, seeks startups for first accelerator programme

Photo: Juliet Shwe Gaung. The City Hall of Yangon.

Impact-focused accelerator Rockstart Impact is seeking Myanmar entrepreneurs that it can help scale and connect with international and local financiers.

Rockstart Impact commenced its accelerator programme in Myanmar after its launch in Nepal in 2014. The programme in Myanmar is now open to applicants until January 19 and will start on March 5.

The new Rockstart accelerator for Myanmar is managed by One to Watch, a Dutch asset management company which has been building companies in Nepal since 2011 and is now seeking opportunities in Myanmar, mainly in the area of education, health and clean energy.

Robbert Groenen, country manager for Myanmar at Rockstart Impact, said the organisation is on the watch for “companies that are committed to their business and solving a market need”.

The programme will cover 10 companies making an impact on the community and with a proven track record of at least two years. Participating entrepreneurs will be connected to both local and international mentors, whose support will include working on a gap analysis to understand the current state of the businesses and where they need to be to make them investable.

Successful companies will see investment ticket sizes of between $100,000 to $500,000, with an option for follow-on investments based on their progress. The structure of financing could vary from mezzanine financing to royalty based lending, convertible loans or preference shares.

In Nepal, Rockstart Impact has worked with 29 startups, of which 21 have secured investment pledges worth over 3 million Euros ($3.5 million). The investor base of the impact investment programme largely hails from the Netherlands and other different parts of Europe.

“In Myanmar, there are multiple fund managers. What One To Watch offers is the expertise we have on how to finance companies. The entrepreneurs here are either too big for micro-financing or too small for banks or VC,” said Willem Grimminck, director and founder of One to Watch.

As part of the recruitment drive for the accelerator programme, Rockstart Impact will organize different events in Yangon on topics such as human resource, marketing, branding and financing.

“You see quite an entrepreneurial spirit in Myanmar, sometimes very social oriented,” said Groenen.

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