Driving Inclusive Entrepreneurship with DO Impact

Admas Kanyagia

Posted: February 12, 20244 min read

Since the launch of DO Impact, DigitalOcean’s social impact arm, in April 2022, we’ve evolved our impact programming and continued to invest in our philanthropy, product donations, and employee programs. We have also refined our focus and sharpened our intentions around our philanthropy. Today I’m excited to announce our latest philanthropic initiative focused on fostering inclusive entrepreneurship for under-represented founders in key areas.

Refining our philanthropic focus

Since DigitalOcean took the Pledge 1% commitment, we have identified philanthropy as a key lever for social impact, in addition to our product donations and employee programs. In the past two years, we’ve directed our corporate philanthropy to several initiatives. When we launched DO Impact, we awarded cash grants to nonprofit organizations that were leveraging DO’s technology and products. We also directed cash grants as part of our annual customer conference, Deploy, to support nonprofits in communities where DO employees were based, and provided cash grants to nonprofits nominated by our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).

As we started to explore ideas for our future philanthropy, we wanted to direct our cash grants to social issues that allow for deeper alignment and connection to the DO business. DigitalOcean’s mission is to simplify cloud computing so that developers and businesses can spend more time building software that changes the world. Most of our customers are entrepreneurs who are building businesses on DigitalOcean. Our cloud infrastructure platform lowers barriers for entrepreneurs so they can grow and scale their businesses with technology.

However, not everyone has an opportunity to be an entrepreneur. Women, youth, migrants, seniors, and the unemployed are often under-represented as entrepreneurs. The lack of access to finance, skills gaps, under-developed networks, and institutional and cultural barriers lead to gaps in entrepreneurship. We know this is an area for incredible societal impact—closing the gender gap in entrepreneurship would increase global GDP by $2.5 to $5 trillion. We believe that DigitalOcean can make a contribution to advancing under-represented entrepreneurs by lending our philanthropy, technology, and expertise.

For that reason, DO Impact is launching our Initiative on Inclusive Entrepreneurship, a three-year philanthropic signature initiative to drive inclusive entrepreneurship by building access and opportunity for under-represented entrepreneurs in key geographies around the world. According to the OECD, inclusive entrepreneurship ensures that all people, regardless of their personal characteristics and background, can have an opportunity to start and run their own businesses. Our new program will provide cash grants, access to DigitalOcean’s technology, and support from employee volunteers to nonprofits, social enterprises, and other civil society organizations that are advancing inclusive entrepreneurship.

Expanding entrepreneurship in Pakistan

We plan to begin our work in Pakistan, where a large group of DigitalOcean employees live and work. In Pakistan, small and micro-enterprises are the backbone of the local economy, but women entrepreneurs remain underserved. We’re pleased to share that for our first grants, DO Impact has partnered with Beaconhouse National University (BNU) to launch this initiative in Pakistan.

BNU holds the distinction of being Pakistan’s first not-for-profit Liberal Arts university, with a mission that revolves around fostering empowered and impactful global citizens within a socially conscious, cross-disciplinary, liberal arts environment. BNU will serve as the local anchor partner to identify, monitor, and support a set of pilot projects that advance women’s entrepreneurship. In November 2023, BNU launched a Request for Proposals (RFP) process to identify the first two pilot projects to advance women’s entrepreneurship in Pakistan. DigitalOcean and BNU are excited to announce our first two grantees:

  • Behbud Association Karachi stands as a dynamic force for social change, devoted to uplifting and empowering marginalized communities. Entirely run by women volunteers, Behbub was inaugurated in 1967 and marked as one of the largest and oldest non-profit organizations in Pakistan. They provide access to quality education, affordable health services, vocational training for income generation (focused on crafts) and employment to thousands of women for the past fifty years. With support from DigitalOcean and BNU, Behbud will receive a cash grant to expand digital literacy and access to e-commerce platforms for women artisans, and to invest in internal digital transformation.

  • WeeCommerce is an initiative from tossdown, a website platform that powers businesses to digitize sales and operations. In 2022, tossdown initiated Weecommerce (Women Entrepreneurs in E-commerce) program to extend their services to an under-served community - women entrepreneurs. Since its inception, the initiative has successfully launched websites for women-led businesses including kitchenware, homemade food, jewelry, and baked goods all from the comfort of their homes. With support from DigitalOcean and BNU, WeeCommerce will receive a cash grant to scale this program and provide free websites to women-led businesses in Pakistan.

Both projects will also receive access to DigitalOcean infrastructure credits through the DO for Nonprofits & Social Entreprises program.

Future DO Impact plans

We are proud to make these contributions to expand women entrepreneurs in Pakistan. Over the next year, DigitalOcean will partner with BNU, Behbud, and WeeCommerce to implement these initial pilot projects. Our priorities will be:

  • Joint learning: These initial pilot projects will allow us to better understand the barriers that women entrepreneurs face in Pakistan, and the role that technology can play in reducing those barriers. As a result, we will sharpen our approaches to achieve impact and scale.

  • Storytelling: We plan to share our progress along the way, by elevating the stories of women entrepreneurs and our grantee partners.

  • Employee engagement: DigitalOcean employees are passionate about helping entrepreneurs and their communities. We plan to engage DigitalOcean employees as mentors and volunteers for the underrepresented entrepreneurs who are engaged as part of these projects.

Community and love have been part of DigitalOcean since the very beginning, and this initiative is a natural extension of our company values. DO Impact is excited to support organizations in new ways as we broaden our social impact reach through inclusive entrepreneurship. We’re excited to share our progress and impact on advancing women entrepreneurs in Pakistan.


Try DigitalOcean for free

Click below to sign up and get $200 of credit to try our products over 60 days!Sign up

Related Articles

DigitalOcean partners with Tabnine to bring the power of AI-enabled software development to startups and developers globally

DigitalOcean partners with Tabnine to bring the power of AI-enabled software development to startups and developers globally

Fer Oliveira

February 15, 20243 min read

Turbocharge Your Business with a Black Friday Cyber Monday Deal from Cloudways

Turbocharge Your Business with a Black Friday Cyber Monday Deal from Cloudways


November 21, 20234 min read

Paperspace Joins DigitalOcean to Expand AI Capabilities

Paperspace Joins DigitalOcean to Expand AI Capabilities

Yancey Spruill

July 6, 20233 min read