Technology NGO Marks 2 Years of Growth

Cambodia’s first data entry NGO celebrated its second an­niversary last week, marking its growth with moves to expand operations to Battambang prov­ince and Laos.

Nonprofit Digital Divide Data has grown from 20 to 100 em­ployees and total revenue has in­creased from $180,863 to $353,192  in two years, proving that Cambo­dians with physical disabilities and low levels of education can be successful in other venues be­sides garment factories, co-founder Jeremy Hocken­stein said.

Today, the NGO’s four-story facility in Phnom Penh murmurs with the clicking of computer keys.

Workers sit before the computers transforming data from around the world into digital in­formation. Working six-hour days, employees earn an average of $70 a month and receive health services and personal and professional counseling, Hockenstein said.

“This really is an entry point into the global economy for people with low grades of education,” he said, calling the main requirement for success a basic willingness to learn.

Regardless of their resolve, however, Cambodians do not have the English language and computer skills to create a competitive data entry industry, said Ministry of Posts and Telecom­munications Undersec­retary of State Koy Kimsea.

“We’re probably not as competitive with other countries like the Philippines, where the population knows English very well. Maybe we can compete with Laos or Viet­nam,” he said Sunday.

Hockenstein said growth is possible in Phnom Penh and in the countryside.

Developed countries are littered with documents in need of digitization, and Cambodia is as good a place as any to do the job, said Leewood Phu, secretary-general of the National Information Communications Technology Development Authority, a Coun­cil of Ministers subsidiary.


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