The Story of Keela

Philip Manzano • Nov 16, 2016

This is why we exist. The post The Story of Keela appeared first on Keela.

Why does Keela exist?

So you’ve stumbled across Keela. You’ve seen 100 different software solutions for nonprofits and you’re wondering why you should care about this one. 

So, what makes Keela different? 

We haven’t quite earned your trust. Maybe you’ve been using the same software for years or are just starting to explore the market. You have yet to find a reason to give us a minute of your time. Why should you?

Spend the four minutes it’ll take to read this article, hear me out, and then decide whether or not Keela’s existence matters to you.   Sit back, relax, take a sip of that coffee you’re cradling, and hear the Story of Keela. A story of frustration. A story of hope.

And there’s no better way to hear this story than straight from the man who started it all, Keela’s CEO and Founder, Nejeed Kassam.

It all begins with an “aha” moment.

Nejeed reflects, “In 2006 I was sitting in the lobby of a hotel in NYC. I was one of the Canadian delegates to the Goldman Sachs Global Leadership Conference.” This conference supports the development of young leaders from around the world (our CEO is a bit of a go-getter — more on that later!). “I overheard two people talking about work they’ve been doing in Ghana on sanitation. They were doing the exact same thing just a few hundred miles apart but had no idea each other existed.”  

Lightbulb. Opportunity. 

What if these organizations had worked together instead of competing for funds? 

This is where Keela’s genesis began. “There has got to be a better way,” Nejeed thought. 

No more repeating things. No more overlapping. Nonprofits work hard to get funds to serve deserving communities. You want those resources to go as far as they can. These were the thoughts of our, then-twenty-year-old, founder.  

“Over the next few years, we tried to get Networks for Change going,” reflects Nejeed. Networks for Change is a small nonprofit organization that works to help the nonprofit sector work more efficiently. However, getting funding to get things off the ground proved to be quite the challenge.

Over the course of seven years, a book, documentary, and law degree later, Nejeed was finally ready to take Networks for Change from a dream to a reality. Networks for Change would release its first product, Keela, a management platform that addressed the real needs of today’s nonprofits. 

“In January 2015, I got to speak at the UN Youth Assembly,” says Nejeed, “I was given a breakout session where I got to talk to 25 young people and propose Keela.” He was excited and ready to make leaps in Keela’s development. And then… 

They ripped him to shreds.

As you may have guessed, the first version of Keela was proposed as a social network. It used a matching algorithm to bring nonprofits together to encourage partnership and decrease competition for limited funding. If you’re reading this, you may very well be part of a nonprofit. And you may also concur – there are probably a thousand things that could help make your work more efficient that you would choose over social networking with other nonprofits. 

Back to the drawing board. It was time to get serious. Time to bring Keela to the market Nejeed wanted so badly to help. Time for some good ol’ market research. 

Connecting deeply with nonprofits and hearing their voices, Nejeed pulled together a team that could build the beta version of Keela. It was launched in June 2015. 

“And this time, we had fantastic client response,” Nejeed delights.

Keela was adapted to meet the day-to-day needs of nonprofits. Meeting a gap in the market. Reaching out to organizations that could never before have access to high-quality management software. Keela had a vision, a purpose, and a whole lot of nonprofit onboard giving continuous feedback to direct its development.

All of a sudden, Keela wasn’t just a dream anymore. It is a real product that is transforming the daily lives of nonprofit professionals. 

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