When Trish Tierney and Heather Ramsey founded the Women’s Alliance for Knowledge Exchange (WAKE) in 2015, it was based on their shared belief that women-led organizations around the world are doing important work, but often don’t have access to the latest tools and training that could help them become more efficient. This belief was grounded in their 20 years of experience designing and managing programs aimed at building the technical capacity of organizations serving women in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East.
Headquartered in San Francisco, the epicenter of emerging technology, WAKE’s mission is to amplify the work of women leading change globally by connecting them to new networks, tools, training and resources. WAKE’s flagship program Tech2Empower (T2E) introduces women leaders and their organizations in developing countries to free and open source tools and technologies through in-person training delivered by professionals from leading technology companies.
WAKE Launches Tech2Empower Program in Ukraine
The combination of a partnership with Ukrainian Women’s Fund, a robust network of women’s right’s leaders and organizations, and the conflict in eastern Ukraine which is disproportionately impacting women, made Ukraine a perfect first site for WAKE’s T2E Program.
For the first program, WAKE and its team of trainers worked with 45 women leaders from 30 local NGOs focused on issues like gender-based violence and human trafficking, introducing these organizations to technology tools like Google, Canva, and video software. It was at the end of this first cohort that Ramsey was introduced to NetSuite.org’s software donation program and the LightCMS website development tool.
Women’s Rights Organizations Create and Manage Websites with LightCMS
WAKE recognized that today’s NGOs, specifically those in their initial cohort, needed a tool that enabled them to create a simple, mobile responsive website to communicate their mission, grow their audience and serve more women in their communities. With limited resources to spend on technology and limited staff, it was important to identify a tool that was free and easy to use. With this in mind, the partnership between WAKE and NetSuite.org, which would give 11 NGOs in WAKE’s initial cohort access to a free license of LightCMS, made perfect sense.
To kick off the partnership, WAKE teamed up with the NetSuite.org and LightCMS teams to create a series of 90-minute training sessions that were intended to help participating organizations create a website from scratch, or migrate their existing site from another tool or platform to LightCMS. Topics covered during training sessions included selecting and adding content, blogging, SEO, adding elements like calendars and contact forms to a website, and more.
By the end of the training series, nearly all of the participating organizations had launched their website on LightCMS. For seven of the 11 organizations, the new website was the first site their organization had ever had.
Yulia Yarova, PR Manager of participating organization Territory of Success, which promotes civil society and women’s rights through the social and legal protection of citizens in Ukraine, shared how LightCMS is easy to use and offers a number of templates to customize design.
“I wanted a website that would be easy for me and for everybody in our organization so they can log in and add information,” said Yulia. “I am very comfortable with LightCMS. It is very easy to make changes to the design. I don’t need to go to another platform, I just open the designs and choose the one I like.”
For Volyn Prospect, an organization committed to protecting women facing human trafficking and domestic violence, the move to LightCMS enabled the organization to move a 10-year old website to a modern platform where the team can easily share content with their constituents.
Nataliya Lytvn, Program Manager at Volyn Prospect, said “Our website is a resource where people can find information about how to protect themselves in situations of human trafficking and domestic violence. We want the victims to see our contact information so they can call us and we can help them.”
WAKE Migrates its Site to LightCMS
At the same time that organizations in Ukraine were going through their LightCMS training, WAKE began to move its website from Wordpress to LightCMS. To support the transition, Ramsey participated in a SuiteVolunteers Pro Bono project which paired WAKE with a team of NetSuite employee volunteers.
During August and September, the volunteer team comprised of Neill Harmer, Pam Jacob, Michael Victoria, and Teryll Hopper helped design WAKE’s site. The finished product was a beautiful, mobile-friendly website that Ramsey and the WAKE team are able to easily manage and update.
“Things are going great,” Ramsey said about the new site. “We love it!”
She then went on to add that Harmer, a web developer with LightCMS, is her “LightCMS hero” for all of his work designing and developing templates for WAKE.
WAKE Heads to Guatemala
Looking ahead, WAKE is partnering with Inter-American Foundation to offer the Tech2Empower training in Guatemala in early 2017. For this training, Inter-American Foundation will sponsor women-led organizations from across Central America to attend. NetSuite.org looks forward to continuing to offer free LightCMS licenses to participating organizations, giving these organizations the opportunity to share their work with a much broader audience using a tool that makes managing a website much simpler.
To learn more about NetSuite’s software donation program, visit www.netsuite.org/apply-for-donation.