Remarks by USAID Cambodia Mission Director Veena Reddy, Development Innovations

Friday, September 13, 2019
Remarks by USAID Cambodia Mission Director Veena Reddy, Development Innovations

(as prepared for delivery)

 

  • H.E. Dr. Sann Vathana, Under Secretary of State of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport
  • Ms. Kate Heuisler, Chief of Party, Development Innovations Project
  • Excellences from the RGC, diplomatic missions

Good morning everybody.  It is my pleasure to join you today to celebrate the results achieved by the USAID Development Innovations project over the past six years. This is a great opportunity to reflect on the lessons we’ve learned about how Cambodia’s information and communications technology sector has developed.    

Like its economy, Cambodia’s ICT sector has rapidly grown over the past decade.  The country currently has around 12 million internet users.  Of that number, 7 million people are using social media platforms like Facebook. 

ICT applications are also being widely used by the public and private sectors in Cambodia for a broad range of purposes such as money transfers, digital payments, training, public outreach, data collection, transportation, and for other social and commercial purposes. There is really no facet of Cambodian life that has not been affected by ICT in some way or another.

That is why the United States has been a staunch supporter of ICT in Cambodia and in other countries. The reason is simple: we believe ICT can accelerate a country’s development, drive its economic success, and improve its prospects for self-reliance. We believe that digital technology should foster tools that empower citizens to make choices and have their voices heard and respected. Our belief in a free and fair system based on the rule of law underlines the United States’ approach to technology.

Through initiatives like Development Innovations, the U.S. has supported civil society organizations, social enterprises, technology companies, and young innovators to design and use technology solutions to address Cambodia’s development challenges. I have had the privilege to see several inspiring and innovative examples of the great work accomplished under this program. Let me highlight a few examples.       

Over the past six years, we have built the capacity of Cambodian organizations to design and use tech tools that have helped them be more efficient, broaden their reach and get better results.

With grants ranging from just a few thousand to 100,000 U.S. dollars, Development Innovations helped organizations and small businesses create and implement at least 80 mobile solutions, reaching 1.5 million Cambodian beneficiaries. These innovations have improved reading and literacy skills, health care services, and the management of Cambodia’s natural resources. They have improved disaster response systems. They have kept children in safe family care.  

Just recently, a group of five Cambodian girls, the Liter Trees, traveled to San Francisco, California, to pitch their mobile application to the Technovation Global judges in the Silicon Valley. They won the second-place award in the competition! These Cambodian girls were among just a dozen finalist teams selected out of more than 1,000 teams from over 100 countries around the world participating in the Technovation program in 2019. Let’s give them a big round of applause for their prestigious recognition.   

Our support to social enterprises like SHE Investments through the incubator and accelerator programs helped women entrepreneurs to scale up their small businesses. A recent study showed that participants in these mentoring programs reported an increase in income and savings by 69% after they completed the programs.

SHE Investments also developed the Ngeay Ngeay (NEEYAY NEEYAY) business platform that provides users with information on business registration, laws, taxes, business consultants, and free video tutorials. This information helps entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level by improving areas like marketing strategy, management, human resources, and other entrepreneurship skills.

This partnership with SHE Investments has borne fruit and produced impressive results - so much so that the new 5-year USAID Women’s Entrepreneurship project, or “WE Act,” formed a partnership with SHE investments as well.

These are just a few examples of how the U.S. - through Development Innovations - has helped Cambodia develop its technology sector.  But there are more examples of DI’s lasting impact and legacy and sustainable local solutions. The Impact Hub now runs its own youth-oriented entrepreneurship programs, thanks to the DI program. Another organization, VBNK now runs a robust social media training programs for other Cambodian NGOs using content this program created. The list goes on and on.

The U.S. government will continue to help develop ICT and entrepreneurship in Cambodia to help the country progress on its journey to self-reliance. Indeed, through USAID/Asia’s regional Digital Accelerator program and the others, we are making ICT a priority for our work not just in Cambodia but throughout Asia,

I would like to thank the RGC, especially the MOEYS for its continuous support and fruitful collaboration. Let me conclude by recognizing Ms. Kate Heuisler for her tremendous leadership and vision and the incredibly dedicated and talented Development Innovations team. Your hard work has enabled many and inspired even more. Your achievements will continue to assist Cambodians take advantage of what technology has to offer.

Thank you to you Kate, and to all the DI partners for your efforts and congratulations on your success!

Issuing Country 

Last updated: October 18, 2019

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