Cambodia—Development Innovations

Client: U.S. Agency for International Development

Duration: 2013-2019

Region: Asia and the Pacific

Country: Cambodia

Solutions: Economic Growth Digital Acceleration

Technology—when carefully adapted to the context and users it serves—has the potential to empower civil society organizations (CSOs) to tackle development challenges in innovative ways with increased reach and results. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Development Innovations project helps connect Cambodia’s civil society and technology communities to design and use information and communication technology (ICT) solutions to address Cambodia’s development challenges. The project toolkit includes public-private sector partnerships, ICT4D advisory and match-making services, training activities and technology expositions, small grants, and the 5D Lab co-working space (also known as the Innovation Lab).

This program enables Cambodian-led technology products to be designed and built to meet CSO and user demands and trigger changes in the ways CSOs conduct programs, largely through small grants and public-private partnerships. This strengthened and more informed civil society community will result in CSOs’ increased ability to access and use tools such as mobile technologies, the Internet, and social media. Ultimately, this will help the CSOs take steps to make their own programs more efficient, amplify their programmatic results, and support civic change.

Sample Activities

  • Establish a Social Innovation Lab as a gathering place for the community to learn, meet, hold learning events, work collaboratively, and access resources.
  • Build capacity through group training curriculum and one-on-one guidance on human-centered design, ICT4D proposal writing, social media, and developing information security.
  • Provide financial and technical assistance through a grant fund to support the development of content, technology, and implementation of ICT-enabled projects that support civil society objectives.
  • Develop a sustainable market for social innovation in Cambodia by educating civil society on the potential of technology to improve scale and impact of programming, and developing the technical skills of local technology and service providers to support cutting-edge programming.

Select Results

  • Established a consulting and advisory service built on principles of human-centered design that has supported more than 50 CSOs to refine their development-focused ICT ideas and will produce more than 24 technology-enabled solutions for CSOs.
  • Educated 13,000 civil society members, students, and technologists (including 10,000 youth) through 230 events featuring Cambodian and international experts on topics including ICT innovation strategies, information security, and social networking.
  • Established the 5D Lab, a co-working and technology resource center designed to spur social innovation by providing training, access to state-of-the art audio/video equipment, and collaborative working space for its 550 members.
  • Funded development of Khmer Smart Keyboard App that improves ease of typing in Khmer and has regularly been the No. 1 Cambodian productivity app download since it launched in early 2015.
  • Built capacity of staff from 18 CSOs to script, shoot, and edit videos that promote storytelling and advocacy about key civil society issues.
  • Built partnerships with private sector companies to support technology projects with companies such as EZECOM, MyTEB, Cellcard, Facebook, and Mozilla.
  • Developed more than 100 new CSO partnerships, resulting in the development of 257 percent more ICT solutions designed by CSOs in two years.


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