The Evolution of Technovation Cambodia: 2014-2019


អត្ថបទ​នេះមានជាភាសា៖ kmខ្មែរ


By Pork PONN

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Manager
Development Innovations

The Technovation Challenge is the world’s largest tech entrepreneurship program for young women, focused on girls ages 10-18. Technovation offers girls around the world the opportunity to learn the necessary skills to become tech entrepreneurs and leaders through a practical 12-week project-based course facilitated by local mentors from the business and tech communities. The program was developed in the early 2010s to address the gender gap in tech and entrepreneurship fields around the world.

Technovation has been organized in Cambodia by USAID’s Development Innovations since 2014. The first year started with only one team, but the program grew rapidly through 2018, attracting and engaging 44 teams from across the country. To date, the program has helped more than 400 Cambodian girls learn how to identify a problem in their community, and learn coding and practical business development skills to develop a mobile app to address the problem, and hundreds more are currently completing the 2019 program. The annual Technovation Cambodia learning program ends with a pitch competition in Phnom Penh, and each team submits their project to Technovation’s global headquarters in San Francisco, USA in an effort to compete to travel to the prestigious World Pitch event.


In 2017, one of the Technovation Cambodian teams qualified as a global finalist team, one of just 12 teams among 1,100 from around the world. Their first time on a plane, the team traveled all the way to Silicon Valley in San Francisco to attend the world pitch at Google headquarters. These five 11 and 12 year-old girls from Liger Leadership Academy competed fearlessly against global peers from Hong Kong to Kenya. These young girls are now a source of pride for many Cambodians of all ages, and helping break down some of the stereotypes of what a typical Cambodian tech expert or innovator looks like.


Photo: Technocation participants in Battambang province run weekend sessions from January-April.


In 2018, Technovation Cambodia expanded further to reach more girls at provincial level in Battambang and Siem Reap. Greater outreach to schools outside Phnom Penh has meant an increase in provincial teams, including state school teams. Three teams (one from Siem Reap province) won the awards at the National Pitch Event and one team received the People’s Choice Award through the Facebook competition campaign. At the global level, Cambodian three teams, including one from Battambang, were selected among 2,500 teams from more than 115 counties to qualify as global semi-finalists.


Photo: A Technovation girl team works each weekend at the computer lab at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia.


In 2019, Technovation Cambodia is managed by many different actors. Public events are managed by university partner Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC), who also manages of the 12 week learning program for public schools across Phnom Penh. In addition, nine school-based Technovation clubs across the country host the program at their schools. Telecommunications company Smart Axiata continues to co-fund this important initiative for the third year in a row.

Photo: Different activities at the Technovation Cambodia National Pitch event in 2018

Technovation Cambodia has had a profound impact on many Cambodian girls, and helped directly address the gender divide in both tech and business fields, as well as build a pipeline of young women with tech entrepreneurship skills, and some of the foundational skills needed for the jobs of the future.

What parts of the program did alumni value most of all? A follow up survey with Technovation Alumni indicated that they highly valued both the soft skills learned during the program, as well as the lesson from the more tech centered curriculum

The survey also asked what Technovation girls have done following their completion of the 12-week training program. The results show many continued to engage in the tech sector: many girls surveyed reported they continued to build new tech tools or prototypes, signed up for STEM related courses, and/or volunteered for tech related activities and events. Eight respondents told us that they are currently studying at college as of the time of the survey, and half of them reported pursuing their higher degrees in computer science and STEM-related fields.

Almost all of the alumni surveyed, 98% expressed that they would recommend that their friends or sisters to join the Technovation Cambodia program the following year.
As indicated by data from the survey, Technovation Cambodia has made significant contribution to a positive change for girls, and it has built a pathway for Cambodian young girls to engage further in tech and entrepreneurship fields. Almost all the girls surveyed said they saw a positive change in themselves after completing the training program. These changes ranged from increased interest in technology, a new entrepreneurial mindset, improved self-confidence, and tech skill gains.