The Coder Studio is an eight-month-old, eight-member team and one of the first technology startups based in Cambodia’s agricultural province of Battambang. It primarily builds computer and mobile applications for small businesses.
Meach Sophanith, 29, Coder Studio team leader, moved back to his home town of Battambang city after having worked in the IT sector in Phnom Penh and Thailand. He told VOA Khmer that he decided to create a tech start-up team in a province that is generally known for its agriculture after noticing the potential of its human resources.
“I observed that young people in Battambang have a noticeably strong ability in technology. So I had an idea to connect these capable youths to create a start-up team to provide services to people in this province.”
Cambodian developers work at the Coder Studio, a technology startup in Battambang City, Battambang Province, February 16, 2017. The Coder Studio is an eight-month old, eight-member team and one of the first technology startups based in Cambodia’s agricultural province of Battambang. (Sophat Soeung/VOA Khmer)
Despite often being referred to as the second-largest city in Cambodia, Battambang’s economy has centered around the province’s agriculture, particularly rice production.
Battambang officials told VOA Khmer that city’s current economy centers on agriculture, tourism, and construction, and the authority will continue to prioritize these sectors. Officials also hope to make the city become an education hub in Cambodia’s northwest, although it is unclear whether that also potentially means a hub for technology.
Last year, Battambang students topped the list of outstanding students nationwide.
Cambodian students ride their motorcycles after school along Battambang’s Sangker river, February 14, 2017. (Sophat Soeung/VOA Khmer)
Sophanith says he understands the importance of agriculture in the province, but suggested that the authorities should also look to creating industries of the future.
“Battambang province is recognized for its agricultural potential, like quality rice. But in this day and age, we can see that the one sector they should pay attention to is the tech sector that is spreading around the world. And I think youth in Battambang are very capable, compared to other countries. And with some help from the government, I think the tech sector here can grow really fast.”
The tech entrepreneur says although the location in Battambang makes it difficult to attract outside investments, it does not limit the growth of the tech start-up as the Internet allows work to be done from anywhere.
Cambodian IT students raise money and give out handouts along Battambang’s Sangker river on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2017. (Sophat Soeung/VOA Khmer)
His team was able to start with local investment, and currently expanding to both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and even has eyes on a global market.
But even with global ambitions, he says his Battambang-based company remains focused on using technology to solve local problems.
“I think in the next few years or sooner, when knowledge of technology is spread to local people, then it will be easier for us to explain to them and cooperate with them. We then can combine agriculture with technology, meaning using technology to improve their agriculture.”