Culture

Helping Changes You: Zscaler Employee Raises Funds for an Orphanage in Burkina Faso

Zscaler matches donations made by employees during a 200-hour fundraising marathon

Zscaler strongly believes in being a leader when it comes to giving back and helping others. And one of the great things about working at Zscaler is that it is filled with people who feel the same way and go out of their way to exhibit this philosophy.

At the beginning of this year, Kadir Erol joined Zscaler as EMEA Director of Channel and Alliances, taking on the responsibility for expanding sales partnerships. His new partner program promotes collaboration with VAR partners, enabling the company to support its customers through their secure digital transformation and to provide holistic advice on all aspects of the process. And that’s just his day job.

When he’s not at work, Kadir dedicates his time and skills to Hummaid, an organization that he co-founded to support social aid projects. Kadir’s personal mission—at work and for the charity—is to work with others to achieve great things, and this is reflected in his latest achievement. 

During a  200-hour, eight-day fundraising marathon, Kadir appealed to Zscaler employees around the world to raise money to build an orphanage in Burkina Faso. If that wasn’t enough, he (quite easily) convinced Zscaler to match every euro donated during this marathon. All of this was in an effort to raise 200,000 euros of initial capital needed for the orphanage project. In a little more than one week of fundraising, Hummaid made huge progress toward its goal. In July 2020, Zscaler employees donated 75,000 euros via the fundraising platform GoFundMe. After the corporate match, the total raised by the Zscaler family reached 150,000 euros. This GoFundMe campaign is ongoing, and private donations are continuing to come in, with the total now at 196,000 euros.

Kadir’s interest in social engagement and charitable activities was set in motion by his university friend Ali Altunay. In early 2018, Ali encouraged Kadir to donate money to help build a well in a village of 6,000 inhabitants in one of the most impoverished regions of Africa. Together they raised the money for this first project. After a while, something surprising happened. Kadir received an invitation to the official inauguration ceremony for the new well. This unexpected trip—and the insights it provided into life in Burkina Faso—had a lasting impact on Kadir. His feelings of gratitude that he was born in a more affluent part of the world began to manifest as a desire to help others.

Together with Ali, he founded Hummaid as an independent platform for further global projects aimed at providing support to those who need it most. The name of the organization comes from the words human, umma (a community of all people), and aid. Transparency is key to the way this registered charity works. The organization wants its donors or sponsors to see where their money is being spent. When donations are handed to recipients, such as 400 pairs of shoes for children in the Atlas Mountains or food packages for widows, the organization takes photos to share with the donors.

After Kadir and Ali visited an orphanage on their first trip to Burkina Faso, they quickly began to lay plans for their next major project. Shocked by the conditions in the region, the pair wanted to build their own orphanage. Architectural plans for the building, developed by Ali, came together quickly, and the organization obtained a plot of land via a local coordinator. Local builders submitted tenders for the construction of a property with living space and communal areas for 120 children, their caretakers, and teachers. The figures gave the pair an idea as to the amount they would need to raise.

This month, Kadir and his colleagues will once again make the journey to Burkina Faso to watch the official groundbreaking ceremony for the orphanage in person.

“We were amazed at how willing employees were to respond to our appeal for donations,” said Kadir. “It doesn’t matter to us how much any individual donated; we are so thankful for every cent that brought us closer to making this project happen. For me, after my first trip to Africa, I knew that helping changes you.”

 

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