Where is the support for black tech founders in the UK?

Photo Credit: POCIT (US)

This post was originally posted on Blavity, the standout voice for black millennials.

Broadly Diversity is about bringing people from different backgrounds to the table and inclusion is about having their voices heard. This spans across black, Latinos, women, army veterans, LGBT and under represented community groups. This week I saw this question on Twitter by Mike Butcher, Editor-At-Large at Techcrunch:

This week, I also read this impressive list in Huffington Post on 20 Minority Entrepreneurship Programs Steadily “Browning” The Ecosystem. I challenged myself to find out how many ‘Minority Entrepreneurship Programs’ I could find in the UK.

I am not listing programs open to all, but rather specific initiatives created for people of colour in tech only. Below are my thoughts on the the grassroots programs that deserve a push as they aspire to move the needle on building a more inclusive tech scene in the UK:

YSYS London — This community was founded by community builder, Deborah Okenla, and like all great ideas she started small and purposeful with a Whatsapp Group of 1,000 black founders and creative talent sharing ideas, discussing news topics and having fortnightly debates on all things tech on Sundays. There upcoming event with Mosaic Ventures promises to shed insight on Raising Investment For Your Startup Ideas (Weds, 24th May).

How can you help? Attend their upcoming event and read the stories by founders for founders on Medium.

UK Black Tech — So gutted I missed the launch event at Bloomberg for this one. UKBT are driven to build an inclusive tech economy which leads to better access, service and results for all. They have a podcast, active twitter feed and throw events every few months for members.

How can you help? Fill out their survey to feed into their diversity report on the state of the UK’s digital economy: SURVEY LINK

#poctech— Google Campus London (near Old Street) is a buzzing hub of entrepreneurs home to the likes of Tech Hub, Seedrs and scores of startups. #poctech is a community of aspiring entrepreneurs and investors of colour who get together for an inclusive, friendly and informal monthly breakfast meetup.

How can you help? Attend the next breakfast on July 19th, sign up here

Creative Hustle— Recently got connected to this community who curate free events for young creatives from ethnic minority backgrounds to learn, network and grow together. Created by the post grad and Product Designer, Alex Fefegha, regular contributor to FWRD.

How can you help? Sign up for future events here

Goal Digger— Charmaine Hayden has developed a track record over the years as the founder of award winning modelling agency, Face4Music, radio host at Radar Radio and co-host on the popular Youtube show NFTR. In 2016 she created a goal-orientated power network for women from diverse backgrounds called Goal Digger.

How can you help? Interested in joining? sign up here

Pepper Your Talk— Dior is an ex-Burberry rising star and the founder of PYT. I loved the refreshing podcast episode with 1 Cuppa 2 Sugars where she shared more about her background and passion for creating more access to fashion for young creatives. PYT positively supports and educates the next generation of fashion creatives through access to information, people and events.

How can you help? Follow PYT’s colorful and carefully curated Instagram

Dream Nation— The name speaks for itself, DN are creating a movement for those who want to dream big. with inspirational quotes filling their Twitter, events such as their annual Gala and DN Chapter 1, 2017 looks like a promising year for DN to continue fulfilling their goal of bringing together human centred leaders.

How can you help? Become a Dream Nation Insider by signing up here.

Hustle Crew— Started by former Groupon and Hotel Tonight Account Manager Abadesi Osunsade, Hustle Crew was formed to accelerate the careers of the underrepresented in tech through training, mentorship and community support. Abadesi is a fellow diversity in tech associate who brings together an inclusive tribe of female hustlers eager to kick start their side hustle or further their career.

How can you help? If you think your employer would benefit from partnering with Hustle Crew, check out here.

BAME in Games — This collective was set up with the sole mission of encouraging more diverse talent to work in mobile, online and console gaming. They host a quarterly meetup for companies in the gaming and entertainment industries to meet up and discuss diversity initiatives among other things.

How can you help? The network is free to join and open to everyone interested in the entertainment sector by joining here.

Colour In Tech — Jumpstart your career with the Fellowship program, Acceleratr Fund or Insight days on offer. CIT provides a great platform for students to plug into the tech ecosystem from VC’s to leading tech startups across Europe.

How can you help? Keep an eye out for The Diversity Awards coming soon!

The Other Box— Recently held an evening in London with the co-founder of US media platform for black millennials, Blavity. TOB provides a platform for increasing and retaining diverse talent in the creative industries.

How can you help? stay tuned for the mentoring program launching this year alongside awesome fire chat talks.

What is missing from this list for me are physical communities that incubate and accelerate startup ideas. Taking founders on a journey from seed to scale with tailored training in entrepreneurship, mentors and access to a network of investors and fellow entrepreneurs. In the US there are training programs like Code2040 and Black Girls Code. Accelerators such as NewMe and Digital Undivided. Investors focused on minority entrepreneurs such as Backstage Capital, Nait Jones from Andreessen Horowitz and Monique Woodard from 500 Startups.

Is it a fair comparison against our US counterparts? No. It is like comparing US Hip Hop acts to UK Grime acts it is not a like for like comparison. However should we be dreaming big, have big scary billion dollar aspirations and believe in more, hell yeah!

Many of these initiatives are less than 2 years old, still gaining traction and need your help. If any of the above interest you, give them a try, contribute to them and help them grow. If there are any other thriving communities I have left of the list please let me know and I’ll be happy to update it.

QUICK PLUG: My inspiration is my mother, she became an entrepreneur at age 60, but she needs our help. She is raising funds to buy a shuttle bus to support low-income families in picking up their children for Nursery in Ghana. Check it out here: https://www.gofundme.com/juliets-nursery-mini-bus-campaign

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