Free Tools for Development Entrepreneurs


I was toying around at a coffee shop this weekend, working on a few things here and there, and wondering what to talk about in our next blog post. Then my eyes landed on the list of tabs that I had open in my web browser.


It’s almost silly how many resources are out there to help you get your small business started. Nearly any resource you could ever need is out there and it’s probably free! All with just a few keystrokes.

Not that we’re not a fan of consulting the professionals when needed. I recently received some great advice for sustainable clothing and design expert, Alok Appadurai of Fed By Threads clothing store. He told me that the one thing he would recommend to all business owners is investing in a quality, professional brand marketing image. Check out his here to see why...

But if a limitless budget is a little beyond your immediate horizon, we’ve compiled some amazing tools to make your life just a little bit easier.


Asana - It’s Day One. You and your partner have flooded your kitchen table with every possible resource imaginable. You’re dreaming. You’re planning. You’re beginning to build the next Big Thing. Ideas are flying left and right, but how do you get them all organized? Asana has your answer. Register for free and open the door to task lists, calendars, deadlines, email reminders, and check ins. You can even hold staff meetings and track contacts with customers, assign tasks to individuals or groups, plan deadlines, and keep each other on track with encouraging notes to one another. This was one of the first planning tools we embraced here at FTI and we are so very glad we did...


Piktochart - A few days ago, I was struggling. We needed a way to illustrate our impact in a simple and easy-to-read way, but I have no background in graphic design. My thoughts went first to free clip art, then to manipulating either Microsoft Word or Powerpoint. And then genius struck -- what if I Googled “free infographic maker” and voila! Piktochart entered my life.

Now, I’m a sucker for color swatches and an “Insert Map” option, so I may be a little biased, but Piktochart is everything I needed it to be and more. It made creating a professional infographic quick, easy, and fun. Seriously, check it out. The possibilities are endless.


Trello - Time to out Wayne a little. The man is a genius. He has a collection of thousands of bookmarked websites from organizations all over the world. He has IT NGOs in Bangladesh, education initiatives in Kenya, government sanitation programs in South East Asia. If someone is doing something innovative and exciting in the world, Wayne has a bookmark for it. 

The downside? They were all stored on his computer in the Bookmarks tab. Trello was the perfect site for us to get these organized and illustrated just the way we wanted them. So now instead of a mass of links and tools, we have an encyclopedia of searchable resources. Just don’t ask how many hours it took to get them inputed!



MailChimp - If you were ever a fan of Serial, you’ve probably already heard of MailChimp. But trust us, the ubiquitous commercial does not do it justice. MailChimp provides a simple, code-free way to design beautiful emails without all the hassle. You can insert your own photos, program color schemes, add links to your social media, and so much more. If you have something that needs communicating to your customers, MailChimp is the way to do it.




BrainCert - When I said you can find nearly anything online, I meant BrainCert. With so many of our partners spanning the globe, and so many resources in hard to reach places, we wanted to find a simple way to connect our key players in one place. We needed to be able to plan courses, post announcements, get feedback, and track tasks. We needed to be able to check in with our participants and provide an easy, localized place for them to go with questions. BrainCert provides all of that and it’s free! 

Now, I would be remiss in plugging all of these amazing free resources if I didn’t also say that sometimes there’s no topping the real deal. And for that, I’ll leave you with the lovely and talented Ms. Ellen Ercolini -- a true business diva and the classiest money-making expert around.


Until Next Time,