A Black entrepreneur is striving to level the playing field for people of color to enter the realm of tech. Through a Washington, DC-based incubator, Aaron Saunders is providing tech education for underserved individuals in efforts to diversify the industry, WAMU reported.
Dubbed the Inclusive Innovation Incubator the co-working space—which opened in 2016 and is located near Howard University—was created as an avenue to increase digital literacy amongst the Black community in the city, the news outlet writes. It provides workshops that cover UX, web development and coding and offers mentorship for people of color who are interested in pursuing careers in the tech space.
Saunders—who spent several years working in software development—says his own experiences with trying to navigate the world of STEM, inspired him to create this space. He says that the lack of racial representation that he witnessed prompted him to come up with a solution for tech’s diversity problem and provide career pathways for individuals who looked like him. “Very often I was the only person of color there, and I got to a point in my life where I was like ‘Is there something I can do to make a difference?,’” he told the news outlet. “Technology happens everywhere, and I think there’s a level of technical competence that we need to increase within our community so that we can help our folks grow and expand their businesses.”
He hopes that his decision to create this space for Black tech innovators inspires others to follow suit and figure out more solutions to diversify the sector. Outlets like the Inclusive Innovation Incubator are needed. According to WAMU, the National Urban League’s 2018 State of Black America report indicated that the number of African Americans who hold degrees in STEM is below the average of whites and at tech companies less than five percent of employees are Black.
Several Black entrepreneurs have created businesses to push people of color forward in tech. Marceau Michel—creator of Black Founders Matter—is aiming to raise $10 million for visionaries of color in the tech industry.