How Akubo is giving NGOs and Start-ups an edge
From a simple desire to help his sister’s charity organization, Robin Abello created Akubo, a management information system designed to manage data, events and sponsors to help provide education to the poor.
The story begins when Robin Abello finally decided, after a series of frustrating attempts at different platforms, to build a database software for his sister’s charity in 2007. Today, many nonprofit organizations all over the world and right here in the Philippines – including Caritas, Operation Blessing, Radio Veritas, Habitat for Humanity and De La Salle Philippines itself – are now using it too.
Abello, 44, lives in Maryland, United States, where he also founded Percworks, Inc., a tech company that offers tech support and app development services. For the past fifteen years, he has been helping his sister, Micmic Abello-Golez, manage Tapulanga Foundation, based in Negros Occidental. The organization works to help communities, especially farm workers and their children, through scholarships and medical missions. The foundation primarily provides scholarships to St. Francis of Assisi School in Silay City – a legacy started by their grandmother, who believed in quality education for everyone.
Abello studied at the University of St. La Salle (Bacolod) and graduated from La Salle Green Hills in 1988, before earning his Computer Science degree at the University of Maryland and an MS in Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.
From across the globe, Abello would add donor records into their Tapulanga files, yet they often found that the new information was not synchronized with their Negros version. They tried Excel and then Access, but the setup was not ideal with various people making updates from different locations.
“We looked for an online database solution and most of the services we found were geared for medium to larger organizations,” Abello recalls. What they needed, he realized, was a software that gave the whole team, both here and abroad, easy yet secure access to the foundation’s data.
The first version of Akubo was written in one weekend. “Of course that was the very basic version,” Abello said. “It took me a year to build it to the point where other nonprofit organizations could also use it.” He initially built the database to organize hundreds of contact details. Now it lets them send email campaigns, manage fundraising details, and accept online donations.
Eventually Abello decided to share it to other groups. By then, the software grew into what he now calls Akubo – named after its goal: to give organizations an online bahay kubo for their data. Now joined by his former classmates at La Salle Green Hills, Edwin Calanog (who, like Abello, was a member of Kundirana) and Noli Reyes, who both bring in a wealth of experience in operations management and marketing, Abello continues to make Akubo a better product for organizations around the world.
Today, besides foundations and businesses, more Lasallian schools have started to use Akubo – from DLSU and College of Saint Benilde to La Salle Zobel and La Salle Dasmarinas. The LSGH Alumni Association and La Salle Araneta have also confirmed their subscriptions for the database.
His steadily growing clientele and their feedback give Abello a better opportunity to improve the software. Recently he added more features like events management and an integration with BDO for credit card payments.
Still, Abello remains focused with their original mission of helping others. Through Akubo he has provided college scholarships and even built a chapel at St. Francis of Assisi School. There’s more to Akubo than simply a business: it’s his way to give back to the community and help more people.