In the early days of Digital Divide Data, co-founder and CEO Jeremy Hockenstein said he traveled to New Delhi, India to learn how to improve the NGO’s work in Cambodia, which specializes in data entry and technology education.
Now, nine years and more than 360 graduates later, the Kenyan government with the help of the Rockefeller Foundation has come to Cambodia to learn how to set up a program similar to Digital Divide, Mr Hockenstein said.
Others are also taking notice of Digital Divide. The Boeing Company, the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world, awarded the group with $50,000 for recruitment and training.
“We use $300,000 in donor support for recruitment and training. So $50,000 is a significant amount,” Mr Hockenstein said yesterday at a ceremony celebrating the donation.
Digital Divide trains impoverished youths for jobs requiring computer skills such as data entry, digital publishing and archiving, Mr Hockenstein said. He also said Digital Divide plans to expand and offer 100 entry-level positions to students in Cambodia and another 100 in Laos, where the organization also operates.
“The last office survey showed that the average income was $282 a month for our graduates,” Mr Hockenstein said, adding program graduates earn three or four times the national income on average.
Digital Divide not only helps individuals find specialized jobs, it helps improve the quality of human resources, which could help Cambodia to attract a portion of the lucrative information technology outsourcing industry, Mr Hockenstein said.
Boeing Southeast Asia President Ralph “Skip” Boyce said the $50,000 is part of the company’s Global Corporate Citizenship Program along with seven other projects in Asean countries.
“But none are as good as this, as rewarding,” he said. “Digital Divide Data is different because it’s not just training, it’s the employment.”
Raymond Francis, director of communications for Boeing Southeast Asia, said the donation is one of the larger amounts given out by the program. He declined to disclose the total amount that Boeing donates through the program but said Southeast Asia has one of the largest allotments and that 50 percent of that goes to programs in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.
“We want to give back to the community and know that people really benefit from the money,” he said. “Digital Data Divide provides skills to improve individuals.”