Online platforms for development cater to a range of audiences and on a range of issues. Three such platforms in Southeast Asia—those hosted by Phandeeyar in Myanmar, Development Innovations in Cambodia, and GovInsider in Singapore—provide a wealth of useful information and nicely represent these varied orientations.
Phandeeyar is the first local startup accelerator ever established in Myanmar. Proudly positioned itself as an innovation lab, Phandeeyar offers a collaborative space for tech community, mentoring and skill building, as well as funding opportunities. Last year, the lab received US$2 million grant to incubate potential tech startups, including the country’s open data platform: Open Development Myanmar – which has been essential in supporting a transparent electoral process. Phandeeyar’s approach is to build and strengthen Myanmar’s innovation ecosystem by acquiring new tech talents and entrepreneurs whilst expanding the capacity of existing CSOs and social enterprises. As a result, entrepreneurs are racing to tap into the potentials of technology in tackling various public problems, such as developing fintech for the unbanked population.
Development Innovations is a USAID-funded project aiming to develop technological solutions to solve development problems in Cambodia. It provides tech coaching, advisory services, and funding to support civil society organisations (CSOs), private sector, and tech community developing ICT solutions. Whilst the assistance offered is similar to Phandeeyar, Development Innovations is more interested in prototyping and testing tech products, ensuring that the product is ready for the market. However, despite having successfully developed tech-based solutions for various development problems, there is a lingering scepticism whether these initiatives can sustain beyond project cycle.
GovInsider is a Singaporean media startup that publishes content on public sector innovation to inspire government and government officials to try new technology and approaches. Its site collects best practice examples across Asia Pacific – from using public tweets to monitor food price fluctuations in Indonesia to how the Maldives utilises drones to help mitigate climate change’s impact. GovInsider’s approach of exploring technology from a more humane angle has proven appealing to government decision makers. Having a rapidly growing audience of senior officials, the startup was able to play an influential role at the United Nations Summits earlier this year.
Image credit: Development Innovations.