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DM Finalist Digital Divide Data Keeps on Winning

Tom Grubisich's picture

 

The good news for DM2003 winner Digital Divide Data keeps on coming.

DDD, which trains the disabled, orphans, migrants, and vulnerable women in Cambodia and Laos to become digital operators for overseas clients, has received a US$50,000 grant from the Boeing Co. to advance its socially attuned IT job training and placement in Southeast Asia.

In its most recent quarterly statement, non-profit DDD, whose 650 employees and trainees make it the largest technology company in Cambodia and Laos, reported:

"...we increased earned revenues from clients to US$2.2 million for the year ending June 30, 2009. This was up 50% from the previous year of US$1.5 million.

"For the fourth straight year DDD covered its business costs through earned revenue. We then used generous support from our donors to support our social mission related expenses, particularly the recruiting and training of disadvantaged young people and educational benefits."

Digital Divide Data was founded in 2001 by Jeremy Hockenstein, then a management consultant for McKinsey & Co.  Struck by the "mix of poverty and progress" in Cambodia on a trip to Angkor Wat, Hockenstein saw "the opportunity to make a difference."  He put together a team of friends from his college days (he graduated from Harvard), and they started an IT training program -- modeled after outsourcing operations in India -- whos graduates would do digital work for foreign institutions and companies. Their first contract was digitizing the Harvard Crimson at Hockenstein's alma mater.  The details of DDD's outsourcing work for academic institutions, libraries, and other clients are here

Under DDD's "social mission model," students are recruited from disadvantaged backgrounds, trained for three to eight months in basic computer and English skills, and then employed in outsourced IT jobs while spending half their day getting a college education.  They receive full medical and other benefits.  After they get their degree, workers advance to management positions at DDD or, with the help of outplacement services, leave for other, higher-level jobs paying US$200 and more a month, as much as seven times local salaries.

DDD is a company with strong and deep roots in Southeast Asia.  Native Laotian Mai Siriphongpanh is chief operating officer of DDD, and other Laotians and Cambodians occupy key managerial positions at DDD.  Here's the bootstrap story of Kann Kunthy, the new General Manager of DDD's Phnom Penh office, who came to the company 10 years ago as a high school dropout.