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USAID helping people to be Switched on

Samathi Sok / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Technovation Cambodia participants learning how to develop mobile app-based business ideas in a workshop with the tech mentors in early 2017. Photo: Chandy Mao, Development Innovations

Over the past several years Information Technology (IT) has become more and more prevalent in Cambodia, launching—in recent years—to the forefront of society. Today one of the main uses of IT has been in aiding Cambodia’s development. Development Innovations is a five-year project funded by the United States Agency for Interna-tional Development (USAID) started to help civil society organizations (CSOs), technology companies and social enterprises to use Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to further Cambodia’s development.
Development Innova-tions, based in Phnom Penh, provides many technology- and IT-related services. Development Innovations provides support through a variety of methods such as providing tech coaching and ICT advisory; providing tech services to help Cambodians understand and use new in demand technologies and offering numerous grants and partnerships to support ICT in Cambodia.
Recently, through a partnership with Impact Hub Phnom Penh, Development Innovations was involved in an initiative meant to support dozens of aspiring young Cambodian entrepreneurs through a unique program that helps Cambodian youth realize their social business ideas and contribute towards the future of the nation through the resolution of social and environmental issues. Named ‘Epic’, the initiative will last until the end of 2017, and will take groups of young entrepreneurs through a series of workshops, boot camps and tailored coaching, designed to help further each venture towards their final goal.
The initiative will provide sessions on product development, customer behaviour, as well as business-related topics such as financial modelling and pitching, and will help link the start-ups to investors.
This program, supported by USAID through the Development Innovations project, is the first of its kind in Cambodia to invest $20,000 worth of technical and financial support to five upstanding start-ups.
In 2018, Development Innovations will close down after five years of providing hands-on ICT training and support in Cambodia. However, Development Innovations is dedicated to ensuring that their closure will not be the end of ICT services in Cambodia.
According to Kate Heuisler, Chief of Party at Development Innovations, “[Development Innovations] will have new ICT training services at the Lab, and [will] continue to transfer skills to our partners at Cooperation Committee for Cambodia so they can take over some NGO-focused ICT services after we close down in 2018.”
Ms. Heuisler continued, saying that in their final year, Development Innovations will continue to offer in-demand training courses in ICT and continue to support the local community, through the promotion of events, challenges and competitions in Phnom Penh and throughout the country. She said that DI has been involved in numerous projects recently, such as “[testing] a patient management system for a Siem Reap-based health clinic, [as well as] user research about Cambodian people with disabilities and the ways they use technology, and a child care case management system for vulnerable children.”
Development Innovations also seeks to engage girls and young women in STEM fields in Cambodia. According to Ms. Heuisler, Development Innovations—through their partnership with Techno-vation Cambodia, an all-girl tech entrepreneurship education program—has, “helped support more than 150 girls to compete in the global technology entrepreneurship program, and one team from Cambodia was a global finalist and will fly to San Francisco to pitch in August.”
As Cambodia continues to develop and flourish, ICT’s role in maintaining and aiding that development will only grow and Cambodia’s entrepreneurs are very aware of that fact.
These ambitious entrepreneurs who are using ICT to further themselves and to set themselves apart from their competition will set the example for future development in Cambodia.
Technology is a staple in today’s ever-modernizing world, and companies like Development Innovations will only become more and more essential in training up the new generation of businessmen and women in ICT as it becomes further engrained into the framework of society.

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