The impact of employee volunteering with Okta for Good

Okta for Good is our response to calls for action on global social issues, including climate change, the digital divide, racial justice, and inclusive pathways into technology. 

Working in partnership with business units across Okta, Okta for Good drives meaning and purpose within the organization and beyond, connecting employees to the nonprofit world and mobilizing resources to support important causes. The effect of Okta for Good’s work to inspire and empower staff participation is that 85% of Okta employees contribute through giving and volunteering opportunities. 

Our Nonprofit Technology Initiative, in particular, catalyzes long-term change for people and the planet by developing and empowering nonprofit digital transformation, equitable communities, and technology ecosystems.

A significant component of this initiative is Okta’s Innovation Lab, a multi-faceted grant program that delivers funding, product, and personnel support to nonprofit organizations. The Innovation Lab helps organizations gain access to Identity, productivity, and security technology, both within and outside the Okta ecosystem, that enables them to become more streamlined, scalable, profitable, and secure. Recognizing the limited support available to nonprofits striving to modernize, Okta For Good aims to facilitate critical but underfunded technology projects. 

Michelle Gatschet, a Sr. Customer Success Manager at Okta and dedicated partner to TechnoServe, shows us how she is helping TechnoServe fight poverty-related issues.

Getting involved in the Innovation Lab

Michelle’s first encounter with the Innovation Lab came after she responded to an Okta for Good request for volunteers to lead projects for nonprofit organizations. She initially volunteered her skills as a Customer Success Manager for six months. However, after working closely with TechnoServe to navigate delays, she has committed to seeing the project through to its conclusion.

Supporting TechnoServe’s mission

TechnoServe is on a mission to fight poverty by helping people build regenerative businesses, farms, and industries to establish careers and increase their incomes. It provides micro-retailers with access to an ecosystem of purpose-built applications that boost productivity and profitability. The organization has helped people in nearly 30 countries improve their economic prospects and ensure greater prosperity for their families and communities.

Michelle liaises with TechnoServe’s project leads, Laibuta Kimathi and Sildio Mbonyumuhire, in Nairobi and provides Okta resources to configure various authentication protocols and resolve licensing issues to help deliver a streamlined user experience. 

The project now has 80% of micro-retailers from the Smart Duka program in Kenya onboarded. The platform will help these organizations become more scalable and run their businesses more smoothly. They’ll have a stronger foundation on which to build profitability. 

Addressing technology challenges 

It was immediately apparent to Michelle that TechnoServe’s project team needed clarity on the structure of the Innovation Lab grant. She cleared up the confusion and got everyone on the same page.

Learning curves and unexpected challenges are no surprise with new initiatives like innovating access to technology. In this case, TechnoServe wasn’t sure what products they required from a licensing perspective. 

The project team had to shift their priorities to studying the use case and determining which licenses were required before drafting a contract for the work to start. Michelle recruited resources, including Okta’s engineering and sales teams, to create a compelling use case, determine the scope, and find the solution — including building out integrations to the retail apps that TechnoServe uses. It’s an incredible opportunity to expand and educate a whole new market on identity protocols and OIDC and SAML integrations.



Overcoming these challenges relied on people from different cultures worldwide collaborating on video calls over several months, and it was inspiring to witness. Michelle was particularly thankful to her colleagues: Adam Rosenzweig, Senior Manager, Product Impact at Okta, who compiled a great team of volunteers and supported the project at every step; Brad Goettemoeller, Social Impact Solutions Architect who provided technical assistance, and Manuel Cruz, Senior Solutions Engineer at Okta, who also volunteered technical expertise that was crucial to scoping out a successful project. 

Unearthing exciting technology potential across Africa

TechnoServe users are predominantly business owners who could be struggling financially, don’t have technical expertise, and may lack confidence in their local network security. However, they also have sensitive data they need to protect, which leaves them vulnerable to cyber attacks and the financial consequences of data breaches. 

Discover how Okta's Innovation Lab is helping companies fight the world’s most critical social issues with digital and technology solutions.