A month ago I tweeted Arfah to rant about the lack of diversity in the tech startup scene in London. We spoke about our backgrounds and laughed about how our parents wished we’d be good kids and be Dr’s (Hello? NHS cuts!?), lawyers or accountants. About our experiences as Muslims working in an industry which is overwhelmingly white and middle class. The highs, lows and awkward moments and more importantly what we wanted to do about it.
We’re both hugely passionate about technology, design, business, our faith and culture. So when I pitched the idea for #muslamicmakers a network for Muslims involved or wanting to be involved in the scene it was one of those “I’ve literally been thinking of just this” moments, “LET’S DO IT.”
Thanks to awesome guys at Makers Academy we had a venue and our first event went down a storm with local boy Mohammed Jalil an East London born and bred ex-finance guy turned CEO and founder of SyncSpot talking to us about the life and times of his startup.
Put simply there’s poor ethnic representation in the tech startup world, there are barriers such as traditional upbringing, lack of opportunity, education and resource. But more importantly there’s huge gaps in confidence, something I’ve witnessed first hand talking to Muslims who mentioned moments of feeling they don’t belong, fear of not being accepted etc… With the current narrative built around Muslims it’s not hard to understand why. But this is wrong. (On the evening of our first event #StopIslam was trending worldwide)
This is a crappy catch 22 where everyone loses out. Fewer Muslims tearing up the tech scene and doing their thing = fewer conversations and opportunities for non-Muslims to discuss and understand their perspectives. Fewer opportunities like this to get to know each other fuelled by an Islamophobic discourse = more alienation of Muslims, which in turn = fewer Muslims going out there tearing up the tech scene and doing their thing. No one wins.
There are lots of meetups in London where startup peeps and techies can link, what’s been lacking is a space for the guys/girls who wouldn’t attend a drinks event, to get together and network.
#muslamicmakers is not just for Muslims, anyone can come along to any of our events and we encourage it to help build more dialogue and generally develop more awesome things in tech and business.
(TL;DR – Our goals: grow confidence, diversify tech scene, more awesome things happen)
Ultimately our goal is to help grow the Muslim tech startup community’s confidence and impact in the wider scene. To help diversify the startup world whilst also encouraging more Muslims to work in diverse environments being proud of who they are and respecting other people’s views.
As always feel free to tweet me.