Ashoka Expands its Global Social Impact with Pro Bono Volunteers

Aug 14, 2015 1:00 PM ET

Regina Agyare feels passionately about bringing local Ghanaian women and girls into information and communications technology (ICT) by providing them with the role models and tools to change them from consumers to creators of technology.

With support from Ashoka, a nonprofit organization that supports changemakers by providing start-up financing, professional support services, and connections to a global network across the world, Agyare is bringing her passion to life. She has developed her own program—Tech Needs Girls—to teach girls to code. Throughout the six-month program, local girls take weekly coding classes where they learn the importance of technology and computers, Internet safety and website design in addition to the basics of HTML coding. By the end of the course, each girl has built her own website. By giving girls these skills, Regina seeks to break the cycle of poverty and tradition by creating jobs in new fields for marginalized girls in Ghana.

Founded in 1980, Ashoka launched the field of social entrepreneurship and has activated multi-sector partners across the world who increasingly look for entrepreneurial talent and new ideas to solve social problems. It is the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide, with nearly 3,000 Ashoka Fellows in 70 countries putting their system-changing ideas into practice on a global scale. Ashoka Fellows are leading social entrepreneurs who are recognized by Ashoka for having innovative solutions to social problems and the potential to change patterns across society. They demonstrate unrivaled commitment to bold new ideas and prove that compassion, creativity, and collaboration are tremendous forces for change.

In addressing critical social issues like poverty, abuse, maternal health, and environmental degradation, the organization believes in an “Everyone a Changemaker” world – a world where anyone with the right support and resources can be like Agyare and apply the skills of changemaking to solve complex social problems.

Standardize and Localize Financial Data.

If empowering thousands of fellows across the globe to solve pressing social issues sounds like a monumental endeavor, just imagine what it’s like to manage the financials. As CFO for Ashoka, Mary Andrade is responsible for overseeing 450 active funding sources. Add to that the complexity of working across more than 30 countries and more than a dozen programs, and standardization and localization become incredibly difficult.

As a grantee, Ashoka is taking full advantage of the opportunities available through the NetSuite corporate citizenship program for free and discounted licensing, allowing them to move their global offices off of a legacy financial package that had been in place for over 15 years.

“The real goal was standardization, accountability, transparency,” Andrade said.

With the assistance of NetSuite’s pro bono volunteers, NetSuite employees who donate their professional expertise to nonprofit organizations, Ashoka has been able to roll out the system in 12 of its 32 countries.

Countries that have rolled out NetSuite are now loading their reports directly into the system on a monthly basis instead of sending spreadsheets.

“We’re moving toward real-time reporting,” Andrade said.

Additionally through Adaptive Planning from NetSuite partner Adaptive Insights, Ashoka has the historical data needed to look at program expenditures and where trends are moving across regions.

“We now can do a tremendous amount of trend analysis and future growth projections not available before,” Andrade said.

By streamlining and automating the entire process of capturing and moving financial and budget numbers with NetSuite and being able to view those numbers in standardized format, Ashoka staff have relevant and reliable information at their fingertips to aid decision making and future planning.

“NetSuite has been a big step forward for us, giving us the standardization we needed,” Andrade said.

For more information on NetSuite’s software donation program, visit