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How Somleng advanced beneficiary engagement after graduating from the Growth Fund

Somleng Cambodia
Sep 25 , 2023
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Amount invested $340,301 USD Funding Status graduated growth period Founded in 2012 by David Wilkie & Samnang Chhun
DPG Certified
Generating Revenue


Over the past 12 months, Somleng has been on an exciting journey of growth and accomplishment. A standout achievement has been the expansion of their impact across diverse markets, managing to reach 425,000 new beneficiaries while generating 1.17 million new interactions. This reflects their commitment to meaningful engagement and positive change in emerging markets such as Guatemala, Zambia, Nepal, and Mexico.

This year also saw the team supporting another Venture Fund graduate, blockchain company Rumsan, to integrate IVR as a component in a cash transfer pilot by UNICEF Nepal in Jaleshwor Municipality.

Next Phase: Harnessing Tech for Early Warning Systems


Somleng's strategic vision is directed towards leveraging technology to create a robust Early Warning System. This system will be built on the foundation of the existing Somleng CPaaS, designed to empower government officials in broadcasting emergency warnings during times of disasters. A pilot rollout in southern Laos and an eventual release as a Digital Public Good underscore their dedication to innovation and global impact.


Somleng's involvement in Cambodia's Early Warning System exemplifies their knack for turning prototypes into operational solutions. The addition of a Telecom-as-a-Service (TaaS) feature, based on insights from the Mexican Telco sector, showcases their commitment to continuous improvement and user-centric innovation.
The company’s user testing experiences have offered valuable insights, including one from their work in Zambia, where they were tasked with building a tele-health service. Through meticulous testing of the IVR registration process, they discovered the importance of precision in data input. This lesson has significantly improved the accuracy of their IVR and reinforced their commitment to delivering in especially low-resource settings.

Open Source

Adoption of Open Source principles has been pivotal to their solution’s development. The transparency and collaborative nature of Open Source solutions have resonated with their multinational NGO partners, mitigating risks associated with proprietary solutions. The value of this approach is evident in the trust it fosters and the community-driven innovation it fuels.

Business Model: A Focus on Telecommunications

Over the past year, Somleng has strategically shifted toward the telecommunications sector, marked by their Telco-as-a-Service (TaaS) product offering. Partnering with telcos in Mexico and Canada, they've ventured into new territories, enabling them to support more institutional customers for both commercial and social impact use cases. In Mexico, just by supporting one telco, they are already indirectly supporting as many as 40 institutional customers (including UNICEF Mexico).


Partnering with telcos enables Somleng to reach significantly more institutional users of their solution. @UNICEF/UN0645246/Htet
Partnering with telcos enables Somleng to reach significantly more institutional users of their solution. @UNICEF/UN0645246/Htet

Somleng, bridging the gap between their base in Cambodia and their target market in North America has posed a significant hurdle. In response, they're actively seeking joint venture partnerships in the telecommunications space to fuel their expansion into the North American market.

Way Forward

In the private sector, the team is seeking partnerships with forward-thinking telecommunication companies that share their values and belief in Open Source solutions. In the public sector, they're eyeing collaborations with NGOs and governments, particularly in disaster management and early warning systems.

With exciting prospects on the horizon, Somleng's journey continues to evolve. Their participation in the WFP Humanitarian Innovation Accelerator Programme pitch event in Luxembourg in 2023 promises new possibilities. Beyond this event, their calendar is filled with engagements such as UNICEF's Parent Text Initiative deployment in Cambodia, piloting a new Early Warning System in Laos with People In Need, and expanding their TaaS product in North America.

Working with the Venture Fund

The support from the Fund has been fundamental to Somleng’s growth over the last year. The funding enabled expansion of product offering, generated additional revenue, and dramatically increased their impact. The mentorships also proved invaluable support, as were efforts made to facilitate introductions to UNICEF country offices and regional offices around the world.

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