Feeds

Cambodian data entry outfit provokes ‘sweatshop’ slur

Global philanthropy or exploitation?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

If you set up an office in Phnom Penh and fill it with Cambodians doing data-entry chores for US organisations, is this a philanthropic application of globalisation or nothing more than the cynical exploitation of cheap sweatshop labour?

That's the question raised by the BBC which reports on the success of Digital Data Divide (DDD), a non-profit organisation now employing more than 100 Cambodians in tasks as diverse as knocking out Harvard University's Crimson newspaper to archiving a 19th century Boston residents' directory.

DDD is the brainchild of Canadian Jeremy Hockenstein who set up the organisation after a trip in 2000 to Cambodia. Hockenstein raised $50,000 dollars to target the most disadvantaged of Cambodia's citizens - including victims of the country's genocidal civil war - and within a mere six months DDD was covering its operating expenses.

Later grants from the British Government, World Bank and USAID have enabled DDD to expand to its current size. Employees get around $65 a month - considered a very good whack in Cambodia - and their hard work has helped DDD earn more than $275,000 in foreign contracts.

So, what's the problem? Well, The Boston Globe has accused Harvard's Crimson of "hypocrisy for hiring low-cost Asian typists". DDD's replies that the job would certainly have gone to Indian or Phillipino outfits had it not secured the work.

Hockenstein is adamant that "globalisation can benefit some of the world's poorest citizens". He also hopes that "ours is a model of how you can do it responsibly, and if you do it responsibly you can actually get more work".

Most cost benefit analyses show that Western consumers are the prime beneficiaries of outsourcing overseas. But the politics are messy.

While many agree that such globalisation helps the poorest nations gain a footing on the capitalist ladder, aggrieved Westerners who have lost their jobs to Indian call centres and Russian programmers argue that charity begins at home. Many more, especially in the US, are worried about losing their jobs to overseas. The protectionist drums are beating. ®
®

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.