Laolu Dada is a woman armed with an arsenal of facts about black women in tech.
In thirty minutes of conversation, it’s clear she takes data seriously, using it as her catalyst for doing the kind of business that has real social impact.
Niyo Enterprise, the company she runs with her business partner Oyinkansola Adebayo, is breaking new ground with their clear vision of ‘economically empowering black women’ through tech.
Laolu believes that getting black women into the tech industry is one of the keys to reducing the percentage of black households living in income poverty.
With their accelerator programmes, they are on a mission to upskill black women, increasing their earning potential and career prospects while disrupting the status quo in the tech industry.
In partnership with larger organisations and companies like West Midlands Local Authority, this not-for-profit arm of their business, called Niyo Network, offers free bootcamps and fast-track courses to train black women in coding, software development, AR (Augmented Reality), VR (Virtual Reality) and 3D-Design.
“The future is very bright for tech,” according to Laolu. “A lot of things are moving towards being automated to be run by systems and we need our stake in that. Recent stats have shown that in tech, especially with AI, there’s been a lot of discrimination and a lot of time the discrimination is coming from the fact that the people building these products are white middle-class men.”
“We provide programmes, events and networking opportunities for black women. The Black Codher [which] launched last year was oversubscribed and we [trained] 50 black women to learn how to become full stack developers.” (A full stack developer is an engineer who can handle all the work of databases, servers, systems engineering, and clients.)
“The tech careers accelerator is a 12 or 15 week course where you can learn data analytics or immersive technology (which is like CR design and 3D-design) to ensure that black women are represented in the tech industry. Representation matters. At current there’s less than 1% working in tech roles and it is incredibly shocking and it’s very scary, especially when we see that tech is a high impact industry and much of the government’s initiatives are moving towards digital roles.”
For Laolu, Niyo Network is about giving black women access and opportunity so that black female career changers and entrepreneurs are able to “harness technology to solve problems for their customers, setting themselves apart immediately.”
“We realised on our business journey that very often we were the only black women in the room privy to a lot of info that a lot of other black women didn’t have access to.”
This is why a lot of what Niyo Network does is around gatekeeping.
In October, they’ll be running a digital event for black women who want to pitch to venture capitalists for the chance of winning a cash prize of £5000, £3000 or £1000.
“We think it’s incredibly important for black business women to not just apply for grants and funding but to also know that angel investors do value their ideas and would put their money where their mouth is.”
The other arm of Niyo Enterprise is Niyo Hair & Beauty, a virtual salon connecting independent black hair stylists in the East and West Midlands with an established customer base. They are in the process of taking this to the next level with the design of a high-tech app that will use augmented and virtual reality to widen and streamline the service.
“Watch this space,” says Laolu.
Laolu was part of our Pink Paper panel of speakers at our online launch event in April.
Follow this link to register for free. Almost 100 women have already, so what are you waiting for?
Like our other speakers, Laolu has a lot to say about the ways that being more informed as women can lead to positive outcomes for us all.