10 key players shaping the path for BAME founders in Europe

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to many that the European tech scene is not known for its diversity. In a 2019 report on the state of diversity and inclusion in the sector, it was found that 84% of founders identified as white/Caucasian, highlighting how the industry continues to sideline those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. 

But while European tech has traditionally struggled with diversity, there are organisations on the continent coming together to widen the opportunities afforded to those communities. Here are some of those initiatives working to create new opportunities, provide connections, and challenge the typical narrative across Europe. 

Colorintech – Founded in 2016, Colorintech is an award-winning nonprofit striving towards a more transparent and inclusive tech economy in Europe. The organization is known for its student programmes, working with governments, universities, VCs and tech companies to create opportunities for those from underrepresented communities. Colorintech boasts a community of 30k, with 1200 programme graduates so far – 84% being from BAME backgrounds. 

Witty CareersWitty Careers has one mission: to equip women from Black and Ethnic minority backgrounds with the skills to build a successful career in the UK tech industry. They achieve this through equipping women with the skills they need to secure full time roles in the industry, with practical skills workshops, mentorship, and talks at the likes of Microsoft and Uber. The Witty Careers team is made up of women with careers in the tech industry spanning 5-10 years, who are passionate about empowering the next generation of BAME women in tech. 

BYP network – Described by many as the “LinkedIn for Black professionals”, the BYP network connects ambitious future Black leaders for networking and job opportunities. They aspire to challenge the “Black narrative” by bringing together like-minded individuals through a job board, diversity conferences, as well as an app currently downloaded in 65 countries. BYP have also worked with top companies like Spotify, Accenture and Deloitte. 

Akwaaba Fest – Akwaaba Fest is a tech festival organised by and for people of African heritage in France, consisting of talks, workshops, live performances and more. Due to be held in 2021 in Paris, the festival objective is to offer an inclusive space, and will be preceded by future online events. The idea for the festival was borne out of the experience of organisers Tolúlọpẹ́ Ògúnrẹ̀mí and Awa Ndiaye created the festival   out of frustration with the lack of diversity in tech, and how this influences the technology being built.

Pangea Accelerator – Pangea is a Norwegian based accelerator programme and investment platform which matches African startups with investors. Located in Oslo, Pangea prides itself on creating an enabling environment, where African entrepreneurs develop business acumen, access valuable networks and capital to reach their full potential. 

Hustle Crew – Led by Abadesi Osunsade, this social enterprise works to promote inclusivity in the tech sector through talks, training and mentorship. The 5000+ strong careers community are focused on giving underrepresented individuals the skills required to thrive in biased and discriminatory workplaces. Hustle Crew have worked with companies like Brandwatch and Backed VC to help them build inclusive cultures with more diverse teams. 

Black in Tech Berlin – With a diverse population in a city where a startup is founded every 20 seconds, it makes sense that Berlin would have its own support system for Black developers and professionals. The community was founded by recruiter Kave Bulambo and later joined by Emmanuel Acquah, and welcomes everyone who is Black and working within Berlin and Germany’s wider tech scene to come together and share expertise within a strong community. BlackInTech Berlin also welcomes committed allies from outside the Black community. 

UKBlackTech  UKBlackTech is an independent organisation with ambitions reaching far beyond Europe – they’re striving to make the UK the most ethnically diverse tech ecosystem in the world. They target corporates, entrepreneurs, tech professionals and graduates, in a bid to connect BAME graduates and founders with the right opportunities, as well as recruitment agencies to help diversity their workforces.

10×10 – Andy Davis, director of accelerator Backstage Capital, has organised informal community 10×10 for around 120 Black founders and investors since 2015. Built up through word of mouth, the community brings the few Black people working in UK VC together, while Andy estimates spending a decent portion of his week advising members of the group on numerous elements on starting up. 10×10 now has its own WhatsApp group, which includes a dozen decision-making VCs.

Coders of ColourCoders of Colour is an organisation on a mission to empower young underrepresented people of colour to pursue a career in tech, by providing them with a safe space to learn, explore, and grow. They achieve this through a hands-on, supportive approach, running free coding workshops for young people, with subjects such as building a website or an app in a day. So far, they’ve trained over 2000 young people, with 90,000+ lines of code written!

For more information on this topic, check out our article ‘Meet the European VC firms funding overlooked founders‘.