What is WISE?

Women’s Initiative for Startups and Entrepreneurship (WISE) was established with the support of the Mekong Business Initiative), funded by the Government of Australia and the Asian Development Bank, in cooperation with Swiss EP and Sai Gon Innovation Hub (SiHUB). WISE cooperates with a network of organizations and programs to assist women in startups and businesses within the Mekong region.

WISE is launching an innovation challenge. The program encourages, supports, and fosters startups and small businesses founded or led by women. Participating startups and small businesses must have a founding member from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar or Viet Nam.

WISE Women Innovation Challenge is part of a family of MBI innovation challenges, including MATCh an Agritech incubator, Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST) which focuses on travel tech, Fintech Challenge Vietnam (FCV) directed at financial technology innovations, and the SMART City Innovation Challenge.


Women face greater challenges raising funds and obtaining comprehensive support for their business ventures than their male counterparts.

  • Only 3% of venture capital firms have woman CEOs. – CNN Money
  • Only 13% of early-stage investment funds are given to companies run by woman entrepreneurs.- TechCrunch
  • 86% of venture capital funded businesses have no women in management. – Babson

Every Startup Needs a Step Up

WISE recognizes that women have innovative ideas that hold serious potential, but that they need support to realize their ideas and grow their businesses. The WISE Women Innovation Challenge is the Mekong region’s first woman-focused innovation challenge with intensive support. Mirroring other challenges of MBI, support extends beyond the competition stage.

What do you get?

The WISE Women Innovation Challenge participants are given the opportunity to network with E&I experts, mentors, investors, regional and local innovation ecosystem players. Finalists will participate in an acceleration program where they will receive business model analysis, financial guidance and opportunities for funding from regional and international investors. After a 6-week acceleration period, finalists will have the opportunity to present their innovations at a pitch event in competition for prizes and support packages.

The proposal submission period begins March 28th 2018 and lasts until May 31.