In late June 2023, a group of curious Cambridge MBA students, led by myself and with the invaluable guidance of MBA alumnus Gary Gu, embarked on a trek to understand the fintech landscape and entrepreneurship spirit of South Eastern Asia.
Our journey was meticulously planned to encompass two contrasting landscapes: Singapore, a well-established hub for fintech and innovation, and Cambodia, an emerging market with boundless potential. This dual-country approach provided us with a holistic view of the fintech ecosystem in South Eastern Asia, allowing us to appreciate both the advanced infrastructures and the raw entrepreneurial spirit that defines the region.
Our exploration of Singapore’s fintech landscape began with a visit to Suberra, a leading web3 fintech company nestled in the heart of the city. The team at Suberra walked us through their latest projects, showcasing how they’re leveraging blockchain technology to revolutionize traditional financial systems. The interactive session allowed us to deep-dive into the intricacies of web3, understanding its potential to disrupt and reshape the future of finance.
The afternoon took a slightly different turn as we ventured into the world of E-sports with Emerge. Emerge is an entertainment company that’s making waves in game marketing and E-sports across Southeast Asia. Their dynamic team shared insights into the rapidly evolving E-sports industry, highlighting the challenges and opportunities unique to the region. We were particularly intrigued by their innovative marketing strategies, which seamlessly blend gaming culture with brand narratives to engage and captivate audiences.
A highlight of our Singapore journey was the CJBS Singapore Alumni event at the AIG building. We owe special thanks to Yiyu Jiang (MBA 2021) and Adam Lan (MSt in Entrepreneurship 2021) for their efforts in organising the event. During this gathering, we had the opportunity to connect with numerous CJBS alumni, forging strong bonds and gaining insights into their post-MBA journeys. Additionally, the event allowed us to meet some eager incoming MBA students. We shared our experiences with them, offering a glimpse into the exciting year that awaits them.
As we transitioned to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the contrast was evident. Here, we met with the Deputy Director of the Cambodia Securities Exchange, diving into discussions about fintech regulations, digital payments, and the unique challenges and opportunities of an emerging market. Our visit to STMarket, a fintech startup, was particularly enlightening. Gary Gu and CEO Victor Cho shared invaluable insights about starting up in South Eastern Asia, highlighting the differences between managing businesses in developed versus emerging markets.
Our engagement with the students at the American University of Phnom Penh (AUPP) was a testament to the region’s potential. Over 100 attendees listened intently as we shared our career paths, lessons from the Cambridge MBA programme, and our insights from the trek.
As our journey concluded, we reflected on our experiences. This trek was not just about understanding fintech; it was about immersing ourselves in diverse cultures, forging meaningful connections, and appreciating the vast potential of South Eastern Asia. The memories and insights gained will undoubtedly shape our perspectives as we navigate the ever-evolving world of fintech and entrepreneurship.