Geeks in Cambodia Geeks in Cambodia Thu, 21 Jun 2018 03:52:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 PI PAY BRINGS CASHLESS TO GOVERNMENT SERVICES WITH MINISTRY PARTNERSHIP Tue, 19 Jun 2018 03:51:36 +0000 Desyre Foo Cambodian cashless payment providers Pi Pay and the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MPWT) have entered into a partnership which allows Pi Pay users to pay for public transportation, vehicle registration and a number of other services from the ministry through their mobile phones via the Pi Pay app.

The announcement comes as the year-old Pi Pay seeks to expand its services into the public sector, and bring the convenience of cashless payments to more people.

“It is Pi Pay’s first time working closely with the Cambodian government, which is an important milestone as we seek to demonstrate how cashless technology can boost convenience, and financial inclusion across Cambodia. By offering an alternative to cash when paying for services through the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the government is signaling its support of the technology, and its suitability for Cambodia,” said Tomas Pokorny, CEO of Pi Pay.

The Memorandum of Understanding enables users to not only pay for transport such as the new water taxi in Phnom Penh through the Pi Pay app, but also prepares for future digital solutions such as booking appointments at government offices or fleet tracking, where ministry vehicles can be tracked through GPS to make fleet usage more efficient.

With nearly a quarter of a million downloads of the Pi Pay app in its first year, Tomas believes that the partnership with the MPWT will make Cambodians’ lives “more efficient, more transparent and more convenient”.

Utilizing Pi Pay’s international partnerships with well-known companies like AliPay and Wirecard etc, Tomas stated that Pi Pay will continue to bring successful global practices to the local market and build knowledge and awareness of cashless payments for Cambodians.

With cashless payment revolutionising Cambodia’s society by bringing more people into contact with the formal banking sector and providing safer access to finance, and more transparent expenditure and transfers. Money transfer and payment service Wing has this week announced partnership with Phnom Penh’s public bus system, and a host of new startups and entrepreneurs are looking at ways that cashless and mobile technology can be utilised in Cambodia.

It is certainly an exciting time to be following the fintech sector here, and we look forward to seeing how the industry will continue to grow and develop.

Edited by: Peter Ford

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TECHNOVATION CAMBODIA, THE JOURNEY OF: FIVE INFINITIES Fri, 15 Jun 2018 02:05:57 +0000 Desyre Foo For our third installment of “The Journey of: Technovation Cambodia 2018”, we had the chance to interview Angely Rose, team leader of Five Infinities, 1st place National Grand Prize Winner in the Junior Division, and the creators of the Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) Center mobile app.

MEP Center aims to aid communication between users and suppliers to ensure higher productivity and better time management.

Angely Rose shared with us her 12-week journey at Technovation, their future plans and some challenges they have faced while developing the app.

Photo Credits: Development Innovations

Photo Credits: Development Innovations

The following interview has been edited for clarity, length and flow.

Congratulations on your achievement at Technovation Cambodia 2018! How do you feel about being the 1st place National Grand Prize Winner from the Junior Division?

Angely Rose (AR): Our team feels extremely thankful to our mentors, supporters, audiences and all of those who have helped us through the long journey of Technovation. Without these people behind the scenes, our team would not have succeeded and attained such an achievement. I also feel really proud of my teammates and the immense amount of teamwork we have displayed throughout.

How was the experience during the 12-week intensive programme?

AR: The experiences we got were all very helpful, and prepared us for the future. Besides all the lessons we had, there were also a lot of fond memories forged together as a team. With everyone having a different opinion, there were times where we found it difficult to agree with one another on an idea. However, our team has learned to understand one another and work together, and we have learned coding, entrepreneurship, public speaking, problem solving and how to answer questions properly in a contest.

As students at the Liger Leadership Academy, how did your team cope with schoolwork and the 12-week programme?

AR: The journey could have been tedious and difficult for us, but we have learned to manage our time well. Sometimes we will have members absent due to the busy schedule of going on learning trips such as a Robotics trip to Singapore, and Geography trips to the provinces. Therefore, our team needed to be flexible when doing work.

What inspired your team to come up with MEP Center mobile application?

AR: Actually, we had a different idea in the beginning of the program. However, we found out that not many people were facing the problem we were addressing, so our app would be useless. The first reason to develop MEP is because my dad is a supplier in the MEP field and I often heard about his struggles to find customers to work with. We also observed that many people are actually facing this problem and we did a customer research and found out that 100% of the respondents were actually struggling with the problem that we identified. What inspired and encouraged us the most was when the company, Iching, ensured us that our app will 100% be launched, even if we are not selected for the world pitch.

You were taught computer programming, business ideas and conducted numerous research. How have all these new skills shaped the MEP Center as a mobile application?

AR: All of these new skills that we have learned such as programming, app designing and more have shaped the MEP Center to be a convenient app to use. Not only that, but the skills taught to conduct a business plan have greatly helped us in the future development of our app.

What are some challenges that you have faced, and how did you overcome them as a group?

AR: How to collaborate as a team was something not taught in class but is one of the most important skill to have in order to succeed. At first, we had a few struggles working with each other but we learned how to communicate and understand one another better. The technical aspects of the app were a challenge and it was not easy to learn all the technical skills needed to create the application, but our team tried their best to fix those errors to ensure the smooth running of our app.

What is your biggest takeaway from Technovation Cambodia 2018?

AR: I think it is having the ability to attempt to solve problems in our communities by using technology. In addition, we want to show the world and change the stereotype that girls are unable to code.

Do you have any future plans to improve the MEP Center mobile application?

AR: Yes, we have a lot of plans to improve the MEP Center in the future. We are going to create another version of the app in Khmer in 2019. After that, we are going to create new features based on the previous year’s feedbacks. Then, we are going to launch our app in other provinces and get more feedback to further improve our app.

Where do you hope to move together towards as a team?

AR: The next stage as a team is the launching of our app into the market. With the revenue collected, we are going to donate 10% to Kantha Bopha hospital, and another 10% to the Angel Organization. The remaining 80% will be used to sustain our business.

Do you have any words of encouragement you would like to give to aspiring female innovators?

AR: As the 1st place Junior winners of the National Pitch 2018, we would love to encourage all girls and females to participate more in technology and in the entrepreneurship field. Our country needs more human resources and entrepreneurs in technology. We have all experienced struggles and one thing we found out is that THE STEREOTYPE IS NOT CORRECT! You have the strength to do everything you want and become anyone you wish to be. Girls can code a wonderful app and run a really successful business. We can do it girls! Come on and show your potential!

From everyone at Geeks in Cambodia, we would like to wish Five Infinities all the best as they launch the MEP Center app and embark on greater endeavours with their studies and tech ideas.

Stay tuned to Geeks in Cambodia as we bring you on one more installment of Technovation winners. Read more about Tech Girls Cambodia, Team Estrogen or about the four winners here!

Photo Credits: Development Innovations

Photo Credits: Development Innovations

Photo Credit: Development Innovations

Photo Credits: Development Innovations

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IMPACT HUB PHNOM PENH SIGNED PARTNERSHIP WITH GRAB Thu, 14 Jun 2018 04:44:28 +0000 Desyre Foo 13th June, Wednesday – A MOU between Impact Hub Phnom Penh and Grab was signed in collaboration to support the ever-growing startup ecosystem in Cambodia.

Leveraging upon the strong regional and international presence of both companies, the partnership will support, promote and grow social innovations and startups. Supported by Grab Ventures, the company’s innovation arm, the agreement hopes to discover the next generation of technology leaders.

Olivia Hough, Managing Director of Impact Hub Phnom Penh said, “Grab has made a name for themselves as a rapidly growing tech startup in Asia and we are very pleased to be collaborating with them. It highlights to aspiring Cambodian entrepreneurs and innovators that Cambodia is an increasingly important marketplace, and that this growing sector will be supported by innovative companies. We hope that our combined strengths, network and presence will inspire and support Cambodian startups to grow.”

Chandara Veung, the Acting Country Head of Grab Cambodia also expressed his delight in the recent partnership. “As the leading Southeast Asia’s homegrown technology company, Grab is committed to utilize our resources and expertise to help pave the way for other local tech companies to rise and achieve success. We believe this partnership will stimulate greater innovation and lead to more dynamic growth in the digital economy of Cambodia in the long run.”

With the vision of both Impact Hub Phnom Penh and Grab aligned, programmes organised will include raising awareness, mentorship, and working together to enhance and support the growing entrepreneurship scene in Cambodia.

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CO-WORKING SPACES IN PHNOM PENH: FACTORY Wed, 13 Jun 2018 09:45:31 +0000 Samantha Yeo Last week, Geeks in Cambodia went to check out the Saha’ka co-working space. This week, we went to visit the most ambitious co-working space in town, FACTORY Phnom Penh.

The once abandoned garment factory to the south of the city, has now been transformed into a creative oasis featuring co-working spaces, offices, production and recreational spaces, a skate park, and lots of street art. The the 3.4-hectare FACTORY is approximately a kilometre south of the Monivong Bridge along National Road 2.

After touring the vibrant space, we had the opportunity to interview Amara Sao, FACTORY’s Programme Manager.

The following interview has been edited for clarity, length and flow.

What was the key business idea behind FACTORY Phnom Penh?

The main idea was to create a creative space that has everything; a one-stop shop for people who understand the work-life-play balance. We wanted to start a ‘village’ as I like to call it, having a cafe roastery, food cart alleys, trampoline park, basically fun things to do to keep people happy, fresh and productive. We want to make this a community, a second home for people to come to.

We are also pushing the aspect of community, collaboration and creativity. With the amount of available space we have, we want to be able to support people’s dedication to an idea that they want to make come true. Most importantly, this space was built to inspire a sense of exploration and curiosity in people.

Why did you choose to have a co-working space business here in Phnom Penh?

The initial plan was to convert the space into a technology hub. However, after Factory director Corbett Hix visited the site, he felt that with the massive space available, it could be converted into something more. We also saw the demand for co-working spaces in Phnom Penh. If you walk into a coffee shop, you will see co-working at its highest, therefore, this was how this space has evolved to become what it is now, a co-working space, production spaces and with the existing walls as canvases for street art.

What are some of the plans that you have for FACTORY?

We have an ongoing effort to expand the amenities in Workspace 1 for our members to enjoy, such as an inspirational library, games room and also the relaxation room. In addition to that, we hope to be able to open an art gallery and open up our flexible event space at the back of our FACTORY building. We are getting more demands for event space, which is something that we did not really plan initially. We have a lot of space and we know that people visiting here have a lot of ideas so we are open to listening to them, discussing and doing partnerships.

In the long run, we hope that the FACTORY will also be able to run itself 24/7. This is so that our members who work remotely can be here till late and at the same time, be able to take care of the business.

What makes your co-working space different from the other co-working spaces in Phnom Penh?

The shear size and space that we have available! Recently, we hosted an event here, the Hidden Walls launch. It was a great for street art, performances, live music, hiphop and street art culture in Cambodia. It helps to draw the key figures in the community together to not just share our project but to also plan the future to support and incubate the next generation of artists, musicians, makers, entrepreneurs, people with an idea, who are dedicated into making that reality.

Most importantly, we are working towards a “cross-pollination” where we help to create opportunities for collaborations across the campus as a whole and within Workspace 1 itself. We prioritise work with our residents first. Through our weekly social sessions, we hope that our members will be able to leverage the opportunities to get to know each other better and at the same time, we would be able to keep progress of their work and support them whenever they require.

How do you stay relevant in the market?

The various spaces are all relevant in the market, intending to serve a different purpose. An example would be Impact Hub focusing more towards startups. For us, we engage with the art community quite actively.

The space and design speaks to individuals differently. Some people might prefer a smaller space or be closer to home like Impact Hub and Emerald Hub. But here, having different aspects on one large campus distinguishes us. The potential for ideas and what can be rolled out here is the key feature that sets us apart and keeps us relevant.

What are some challenges that you have faced from the beginning till now?

One challenge that we faced in the beginning is to get people to come down to visit the Factory. Generally in Cambodia, when people hear about this area, they get put off and do not want to come because it is perceived as really far. But after months of marketing through social media and word-of-mouth marketing, we have seen the increase in visitation here.

With so many ongoing activities happening all at once, we also foresee some issues that may arise potentially in the future. But we strongly believe that communication is key. We always keep our channels of communication open, having twice monthly meetups and our residence group on Facebook to get updates from our residents.

Where do you see the FACTORY in 5 years time?

As you might already know, we have a five-year lease on the project. These 5 years are crucial for us as it will determine whether the FACTORY will cease to exist afterwards. Hopefully the business will flourish and it will be kept. But as for the plans after these 5 years, it’s difficult to say at this early stage.

I personally hope that FACTORY will be operating at 100% capacity and potential, that it serves a wider community outside the Factory walls, regardless of the length of the project lease.

The open spaces for collaboration, the wide variety of food and entertainment options as well as the colourful street art found in every alleyway at FACTORY definitely supports its goals – to support the country’s young entrepreneurs in developing their next great business ideas while helping innovators push the boundaries of art and design.

If you are interested to visit FACTORY, you can sign up for their tours on their Facebook page here, or visit their website here.

Address: 1159 National Road Nº 2 Phnom Penh 12301 Cambodia

IMG_1464 IMG_1493 IMG_1529Green space adjacent to Skateistan Cambodia's Phnom Penh Skateschool

Green space adjacent to Skateistan Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Skateschool

]]> 0 TECHNOVATION CAMBODIA 2018, THE JOURNEY OF: TEAM ESTROGEN Tue, 12 Jun 2018 03:05:13 +0000 Desyre Foo For our second installment of “The Journey Of: Technovation Cambodia 2018,” we sat down with Team Estrogen, the winners of the People’s Choice Award and the creators of the TutorKH mobile app.

TutorKH aims to connect students to quality certified teachers for extra lessons and tutoring. The app features a rating system that allow students to provide feedback on the teachers.

Team Estrogen shared with us their 12-weeks journey at Technovation Cambodia, their future plans, and some challenges they have faced while developing the app.

The following interview has been edited for clarity, length and flow.

Photo Credits: Development Innovations

Photo Credits: Development Innovations

Congratulations on your achievement at Technovation Cambodia 2018! How do you feel about being People’s Choice Award?

Cheam Monkolraksmey (CM): I feel really grateful because we didn’t think we were going to win the People’s Choice Award. Honestly, we thought we were going to lose as we did not get as many likes as we thought we needed.

Sang Sopheakpognreasey (SS): I feel really thankful for winning the People’s Choice Award meant that the community will support us throughout the development of our app.

Liev Jennifer (LJ): We were all pretty excited when we won. During the last few minutes of voting, the ‘likes’ for one of the other teams was getting pretty close, and we honestly ran out of hope for a while.

How was the experience like during the 12-week intensive program?

CM: It was a really great experience because we had the chance to spend time and learn more about one another, and also learnt how to do things like surveys and writing code.

SS: We have learnt a lot about coding, group discussion and better understanding one another’s working styles. Sometimes we argue but at the end of it, we talk it out and everything is good.

LJ: I think the greatest part of the whole experience was interacting with people from other schools and seeing some of the problems they face in their lives.

I understand that all of you are still studying in high school, how did you cope with schoolwork and the 12-weeks program concurrently?

CM: For the first to third weeks, we had some difficulty adjusting and managing our time but from the fourth week onwards we knew exactly when we should code and when we should set aside time for our homework.

SS: The 12-weeks programme has made me feel more responsible. It is like making up a career at a young age, and a good practical test for the future me.

What inspired your team to come up with TutorKH mobile application?

CM: We found out that the students here have a difficult time to connect with both teachers and tutors. Sometimes, even if the teacher teaches very well, students may not approach the teacher as he or she is not famous. Therefore, we created the app not only for students to connect with teachers, but also for teachers to have students.

SS: We created the app also based on our own experience. There was once that Jennifer wanted to find a Chinese tutor, but was not given any choice of which teacher suited her the best. So we created the app based on that experience as well.

LJ: Students here are inclined to learn not just Khmer, but English and Chinese as well. We only get eight hours of school daily, and if you compare it with other countries which study only one main language, it is actually a lot for us students to cram in. Hence, TutorKH will be of extra help to students needing tutoring for their other languages.

How have the skills taught in Technovation shaped TutorKH to be the mobile application it is now?

LJ: We learnt about the needs of our society. Whether you come from a higher or lower-income family, students still need to pursue an education and require external help for their studies. Most of the companies that offer tutoring services do not provide us with choices. Therefore, we shaped TutorKH to be an application that could provide students such opportunities.

What are some challenges that you have faced and how did you overcome it as a group?

CM: The weeks closer to submission, we were running out of time and were behind schedule. To complete our work on time, we had to go to bed at around 12am and had extra meetups on Saturdays. Thankfully, we had the help and assistance of our mentor.

SS: One of the challenges that we also faced as a group was group discussion. We all had very different ideas and sometimes took a long time before reaching a common consensus.

What is your biggest takeaway from Technovation Cambodia 2018?

CM: The biggest takeaway is our teamwork.

Do you have any future plans to improve TutorKH mobile application?

LJ: We would like for professionals to take over the development of our app, while we will be in charge of business plans. According to the 600 students and 152 teachers we have surveyed, we would like to upgrade our app to better suit our users’ needs before starting our marketing plan of creating promotions.

Where do you hope to move together towards as a team?

LJ: As of right now, we would like to concentrate on our Grade 12 exams before creating the app. Our end goal would be to spread our app to other countries as well.

Lastly, do you have any words of encouragement you would like to give to aspiring female innovators?

CM: No matter how hard it is, you must try hard to be successful.

SS: In today’s society, not only boys but girls can be interested in technology. In Technovation, it does not matter whether you lose or win but the experience you gained from technology. I have learnt a lot about business and met many new friends.

LJ: I think it is good for girls especially to always give things a chance, because the three of us, we went in not knowing anything about business or coding. But at the end of the day, we still came up with a mobile application. It might not be the best compared to other teams, but there is always a next time to try again. We hope to go to Technovation 2019 and work on TutorKH and make it better.

There is no doubt that Team Estrogen have big dreams, and are determined to make them become a reality. Their passion and drive to make TutorKH flourish into a mobile app that will change the lives of students and tutors is commendable. From everyone at Geeks In Cambodia, we would like to wish the Team Estrogen team all the best.

Stay tuned to Geeks In Cambodia as we bring you on two more installments on the Technovation winners 2018. If you missed last week’s interview with Tech Girls Cambodia, you can read more about it here, or learn more about the four winners here.

Photo Credits: Development Innovations

Photo Credits: Development Innovations

Photo Credits: Development Innovations

Photo Credits: Development Innovations

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