AfroTech Fest 2018: Part 1

Cultural Diversity

Created on: April 08, 2018

Updated on: April 09, 2018

Afrotechfest kick off

Afrotechfest the first day of a two-day tech, web development services and digital festival by and for black people of African and Caribbean heritage.

It kicked off with the YSYS founder’s stories that encompassed the trials and tribulations of starting your own business.

There were candid stories on the efforts of starting your own web development services venture and how it can be lonely at times.

One of the interesting learning points was the realisation that you need to put in an extra special effort to socialise, so that you can build your network of cohorts. This will eventually help you to crack the deal when the deal materialises.

Self love

The next seminar's theme was about self-love, and this was fascinating. The stage was cleared and there were lots of black owned web development services business owners who arrived on stage sequentially; they were provided 5 minute intervals to describe who they are and what they do.

I found this part of the conference extremely aspiring. This is because it provided a 360-degree view of African & Caribbean business within the tech sector.

There were lots of businesses that we didn’t know about and this was the time to market and demonstrate what you are about.

It is these safe and collaborative spaces that are extremely important to our community. If you think about it there are very few organisations in the non-diverse community who would be willing to showcase African & Caribbean business in this way. This was a real highlight of the conference.

Technological based solutions

Meanwhile, at around 5pm we attended a workshop upstairs and this was about how simple technology can deliver life changing solutions.

This was about how a well-established company called Amref were producing web development services, technology – based solutions for entrepreneurs on the African continent.

As you may know I have worked in Ghana, West Africa and I have a keen interest in the emerging technologies on the continent.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this was that the organisation didn’t appear to have imperialistic ambitions. I am sure you have heard of lots of organisations from here that go to the continent and impose their imperialistic ambitions on to these countries and they fail.

This was a perfect example of an organisation that thought long term and they formed partnerships with the local people on the ground to formulate long lasting web development services solutions.

It was very satisfying to see an organisation that is working with Africans instead of subjugating them.

Refugees diversitying tech

minipic

The next seminar we attended was titled "Refugees diversifying tech". In the corporate sphere the theme of this talk would be controversial. Though thankfully in our safe space, this was another ground-breaking talk.

Mozafar spoke about the adversities that refugees face during the time that their refugee status application is being processed. Refugees are not allowed to claim the measly DWP Universal credit allowance. They receive a subsistence payment that is half of the Universal credit payment. Living on benefits is extremely challenging when you are faced within rising inflation and the subsistence payment is far less, so a lot of refugees have to rely on charity to help them.

On top of that there are tremendous barriers that prevent former refugees from entering the web development services job market.

As we all know there are substantial barriers to entering the job market and they have set up a system of mentoring to help get refugee developers in to the job market.

As we all know it is extremely difficult as a black person to enter the world of tech as a web developer and being a former refugee can be a mountain; that is too much for some.

Keynote

minipic Later on, at about 7pm we then moved in to the main hall, downstairs for a lecture by Ian Forrester. His background was that he used to work for the BBC in the research and development department. This lecture was interesting because he spoke about the dichotomy within the BBC and how organisations talk about diversity.

This is usually a euphemism to inaction on diversity; this is a subject that we are very familiar with here at OrmRepo. These large organisations steadfastly refuse to implement action orientated steps to address the lack of diversity and then instinctively feel threatened about it.

Afrotech then started to wind down and Nikky Norton provided a series of poems that touched on our creative processes within our worlds. This was a wonderful end to an exhilarating first day at the AfrotechFest 2017.

Stay tuned for part 2 from www.ormrepo.co.uk/blogs. The link also provides information about the web development services we offer.