On May 11, AfroTech Executive made its latest stop in its event series — Washington, D.C.

At The Gathering Spot, the Chocolate City’s ever-growing community of executives, investors, founders, and tech professionals convened to discuss ways to create partnerships that connect local and global talent as well as ways to take real action.

Photo Credit: Jemal Countess

After a warm welcome from AfroTech’s Will Lucas, AfroTech Executive kicked off with a session titled “From Local to Global: How Effective Policies Can Propel Africa’s Tech Talent Onto the World Stage,” featuring Ronnie Kwesi Coleman, CEO of Meaningful Gigs, and Kori Hale, CEO of CultureBanx; the session was moderated by Zekarias Amsalu Dubale, co-founder of Africa Fintech Summit. 

From Coleman’s perspective, key areas for growth across Africa’s tech sector are outsourcing and investing in education.

“What policymakers have to do is, they shouldn’t [mess] around with people that are investing in those two areas regardless of where they’re from,” Coleman said. “Fasttrack education and jobs, let them come in and educate our youth, put money into the economy because ultimately that’s just going to benefit us long-term.”

In addition to policy initiatives having the ability to be groundbreaking for Africa, Coleman expressed how investing in the continent’s talent is more than money or charity. It looks like investing time, expertise, and skills to support them in their advancement in the tech industry is what can give them an edge.

Regarding investing in Africa, Hale emphasized that now is the time more than ever. However, she also shared that “building companies and relationships between the U.S. and Africa is still ongoing and there are challenges.”

Photo Credit: Jemal Countess

The second session, “Empowering Tech Talent: Building a Collaborative Ecosystem,” was a fireside chat with Black Girl Ventures Founder and CEO Omi Shelly Bell, moderated by Jeff Nelson, co-founder and COO of Blavity, Inc.

Bell knows the power of collaboration firsthand as her company holds pitch competitions across the nation to provide women of color with an opportunity to gain support.

During the course of the event, Bell shared that Black Girl Ventures has funded 450 Black and brown companies. What’s more, she pointed out that a key factor in helping founders stand out is for them to collect data no one else has that displays the value they can bring, especially if they’re seeking investors.

“Omi’s story resonated very much so with me being a woman who’s oftentimes in rooms that I’m the only person who looks like me,” Hope Wiseman, founder and CEO of Mary and Main, shared with AfroTech. “One of my biggest takeaways was her advice on how to utilize data and the communities that you create. And take that and become of value to other companies. They may seem like they have more data than you — larger community stats — but you have a unique space that you cultivate and that is valuable.”

While AfroTech Executive is a time for leaders to share game, it’s also where professionals who aspire to climb the corporate ladder gain knowledge and encouragement to do so.

“I would love to lead because when you lead you’re able to influence and you’re able to get other people at the table,” Tatiana Streeter, global marketing operations business program manager at Microsoft, told AfroTech. “This is a climb that I want to go down because I want to reach back and bring others to that [executive] space as well.”

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