Transforming Lives through Information and Education

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Equal Access International
City & State:
San Francisco, 
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Equal Access International creates positive social change for millions of underserved people in the developing world by delivering critically needed information and education through innovative media, appropriate technology and direct community engagement.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

The simple act of receiving vital information at just the right time can profoundly impact the course of one’s life. Information is portable, relatively inexpensive and yet one of the most powerful tools available to create positive social change. However, for millions across the developing world, illiteracy, poor infrastructure and a severe lack of practical, local information leave individuals and whole communities without this most essential resource. By combining the power of innovative media, with smart technology and direct community mobilization activities, Equal Access empowers millions of underserved people across the developing world with the information and education they need to transform their lives.


Everyday our interactive radio and media programs inspire communities to work together to overcome the most daunting of challenges. For example, in Kapisa Afghanistan, women who listen to our groundbreaking Human Rights as Islamic Rights radio series and participate in our learning circles, gathered 70 of their peers and marched into town to petition male leaders for the their daughters’ right to attend school. These courageous women successfully obtained this right for the very first time. New information supplied by Equal Access catalyzed their march and dramatically changed the lives of hundreds and eventually thousands of school age girls. Similarly, in Nepal more than 6.5 million youth tune into our ever popular weekly radio and internet program, Chatting with My Best Friend to listen to and participate in important discussions on health, vocational opportunities, vital life-skills and empowerment. Our program receives 2,000 e-mails and 2,000 letters each week in response to issues raised. As one young female beneficiary stated “Through these radio programs, I have understood that men and women are the two wheels of the same chariot and that I can do something too- I learned of women’s rights and that caste barriers should not be applied.”


Founded in 2001 and headquartered in San Francisco, Equal Access reaches over 45 million beneficiaries from our country programs in Afghanistan, Nepal, Chad, Niger, Cambodia, India and Pakistan. Through Microsoft Small Business software, we coordinate project implementation, monitoring, community outreach, media production, business development and donor relationships for 160 staff worldwide. Across multiple time zones and locations, Microsoft keeps operations moving 24 hours a day. For instance, as we leave our offices in San Francisco, the team in Kabul starts their day by reading emails from our office delivered via Microsoft Exchange. They review proposals for funding created in Microsoft Word and edit budgets in Microsoft Excel, dramatically increasing our fundraising results through maintaining real-time collaboration between the field and our HQ office.


Additionally, Microsoft products purchased through Techsoup have directly improved the quality of our service delivery through maintenance of data bases of beneficiary needs, reporting of outreach visits and developing impact assessments on results achieved. What once took days we can now accomplish overnight.


In Nepal, Equal Access produces and distributes national radio programs that reach millions of listeners every week, creates national print magazines and conducts leadership trainings that speak directly to vulnerable women and men. Thousands of our loyal listeners send us letters every month requesting more information on particular topics, thanking us for helping them through a troubling situation and for providing otherwise unavailable health information. After installing Microsoft, we no longer have to rely on the laborious hand categorization for listener feedback. Now our Database Officer Sajani Bajracharya uses an electronic database and has real-time access to every letter and e-mail received, directly enhancing the impact of our programming for listeners by sending a prompt response to their letters and by incorporating audience feedback into upcoming broadcasts. As time zone differences from Asia to the U.S to Africa prohibit communications with field staff during work hours we rely on 3 tools each and every day to improve the quality of our programs, expand our reach and grow our organization: Microsoft Excel, Outlook and Word. We work with our country teams to exchange design concepts via Word and Outlook. When applying for funding we collaborate trans-nationally to create multi-year project budgets in Excel. Our marketing materials are created using Word and PowerPoint and presented to donors across the globe. Without Microsoft, Equal Access would simply not have the reach or the ability to bring vital and timely information to people struggling to improve their lives in the critical areas of HIV/AIDS; youth education, human rights and women’s empowerment.


For the UN supported Samajdhari (understanding) radio project, which empowers women across rural Nepal, 12 women, trained as Community Reporters, collect voices of the most silenced and at risk women in Nepal, incorporating their stories and opinions on the issues of gender based violence, gender inequity, sexual abuse and trafficking into the radio program. The backbone of our community reporter network is the Microsoft software that tracks listener themes, communicates with headquarters and turns their powerfully spoken words into text that is presented to donors or provided as evaluation tools for funders.

By providing critical information Equal Access helps people help themselves. As one of our Cambodia trained village leader’s describes: “I have seen many organizations working for the development of Cambodia, but few have focused so closely on building knowledge and spirit as Equal Access. I think it is more serious to be knowledge poor than materially poor. When we provide people with accurate information and a vision, I have seen that they improve their lives. This is the value of Equal Access.” We incorporate these testimonials into e-newsletters using MS Word. The compelling words of rural people from remote villages reach directly into thousands of our supporters homes’ via Outlook.


Just as providing information and education is central to our mission and the bedrock of our projects across the developing world, information is integral to the success of our business development marketing and fundraising efforts. Without access to Word, Excel and Outlook Exchange it would be virtually impossible for us to interact with donors and apply for funding. From UN Agencies to USAID, to foundations such as Ford and Hewlett, our proposals for funding are formatted in Word and Excel and delivered with confirmation via Outlook email. By providing software through Techsoup, Microsoft ensures the realization of our mission, empowering millions of marginalized and underserved people with life changing information – unleashing their potential.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery