Dear YSYS Community,

I hope everyone is keeping well and safe during these uncertain times. It’s moments like these, coming together as a community is crucial.

At YSYS, it’s been encouraging to see members of our community support one another, from Tectonic office hours for founders, to Amaliah online journaling sessions; the heart of community spirit remains alive.

.. and that’s not all, we’ve seen many of our members launch community initiatives as a response to COVID-19, which is why we have introduced a new section on our blog: listing support, resources, and activities to help you get through these…

2019 has been a monumental year for YSYS, we’ve gone from building a community to managing a company and scaling our impact. From community members Andy, Harry, and Sarah becoming Angel Investors with Atomico — Emilia Co-Founder of The Good Hair smashing her crowdfunding goal — Check Warner rasing £27M for Ada Ventures — Amy Lewin spotlighting diverse communities in Sifted — Fahim, Co-Founder of Pukket graduating from APX Accelerator to myself being recognised as the Top 100 BAME Leaders in Technology by the FT … it’s been one awesome year, check out our year in review below:

January — March 2019

The start…

Note: Last month the team got together to create a vision board — we curated pictures and words that spoke to us and best described the YSYS desired impact; history — change — legacy — advocacy! Inspired by the moments during the Civil Rights and its leaders, going forward we’ll be doing things a little differently at YSYS …

Group centred leadership

At YSYS we are big fans of social gatherings and believe IRL meetups are super important for establishing deeper personal and professional relationships. That’s why every month, we’ll be gifting one community member with free office space and a budget to…

This year has been one of the most game-changing years for YSYS. If anyone had told tell me that a WhatsApp group I started in 2017 would be featured in Forbes, receive funding from The Mayor of London and pioneer a campaign all the way to City Hall, I would have laughed. This wouldn’t have been possible without the support from our community, partners and advisory boards.

2018 — we laid the foundation.

2019 — we are levelling up.

Here’s a picture review of all we have accomplished so far:


We curated a panel at AfroTech Fest on how our…

On the tube to work today, it hit me how far YSYS has come and how our latest impact project with Capital Enterprise and JPMorgan is only just the beginning. Below is an extract I wrote for YSYS Community internal newsletter ….

Dear YSYS Family

Some of you may already know (particularly those who attended our private launch last month), that recently YSYS partnered up with Capital Enterprise, Tech Nation, Diversity VC and Loughborough University on an initiative backed by JPMorgan to double the amount of diverse founders by 2020.

The initiative aims to raise a total of $20m (£15.1m)…

Thursday 15th February I had the pleasure of hosting YSYS Roundtable with the amazing Arlan Hamilton Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital; a fund dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders who are of colour, women, and/or LGBT. Started from scratch in 2015, Backstage has now invested nearly $5m into over 80 startup companies led by underestimated founders. Their most recent investment is Flora, a tech startup focused on curated green content, founded by music artist Kehlani.

During the Roundtable underrepresented founders and aspiring investors from YSYS had the opportunity to pitch to Arlan…

After an amazing 6 months on WhatsApp YSYS officially moved over to Slack on August 21st 2017. It took some sometime for us to get used to the platform and discover all the amazing features. Now we are what you call “Slack Pros” hahah, and are more pumped than ever to welcome 10 new members to YSYS Slack Community on Monday 11th September — but before we do so, check out some snaps from our Slack demos days…

Data Pitch is a new startup accelerator funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. Over the next three years, Data Pitch we will be investing €100K equity-free investment each into the best data-driven startups from around Europe. We will be providing successful startups access to: mentors, investors, peer-networking opportunities, technology and data-sets.

Apply HERE by the 1st October 2017

Apply HERE to Data Provider challenges

Register HERE for Data Pitch FAQ’s webinar

Have any questions email: call[at]

Data Pitch is being delivered by: University of Southhampton, The ODI, Beta-i and Dawex.

Disclaimer: Firstly, I want to point out this is not a post about how we need to encourage more black women into tech or venture capital. There are already some amazing organisations working towards this, such as Diversity VC, PocTech, Hustle Crew, YSYS and Black Girls Tech. Instead, this post is directed towards organisers of “Female Founders in Tech” events and curators of “Top Women To Watch in VC” lists.


The other day I had a conversation with a friend of mine, who commented that female founders events these days seem to be a reflection of solely the status quo…

In the middle of Streatham, somewhere located in the basement of The Hamlet the YSYS Fellowship came together for the first time. We discussed everything from startup culture to the diaspora. Yvette blessed us with beautiful cupcakes, and Daniel broke down why culture is the essence of branding, but more importantly — that night we all learnt want it means to be part of something special, where community is at the heart.

…I kept the gathering low-key exclusively for the YSYS WhatsApp family however, I’m thinking of running regular open fellowships. If you would like to see this happen, please sign up HERE

Deborah Okenla

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