Natalie Webb


Natalie Webb

AfroTech blogger

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How Verizon Is Helping Small Businesses Prepare For A Digital Future​

For many small businesses, especially those owned by women and people of color, navigating the existing COVID economy presents new opportunities and challenges — particularly when it comes to the digital demands required to operate in today’s business world. That’s why Verizon teamed with Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and Next Street to create Verizon Small Business Digital Ready , a free online curriculum designed to give small businesses the tools they need to thrive in the digital economy. It includes access to personalized learning plans, coaching from experts, and networking opportunities with diverse, industry-specific businesses. “As our country works to help all sectors regain their financial footing, there is a strong need to focus on small businesses, who are the backbone of our economy. The past two years revealed that the lack of a digital presence, appropriate tech resources and support systems made it difficult for some small business owners to survive,”...

Feb 3, 2022

Check Out How This Verizon Exec Is Working Toward Greater Digital Inclusion For Young People Of Color

As we move toward a world that is increasingly and undeniably reliant on digital technologies, it’s pretty safe to declare that tech is the way of the future. But what about the 19 million Americans who don’t have access to the resources that make that future possible? Verizon is making a commitment to step in and change that. The tech leader lives the ethos that “The future is for everyone,” and thanks to its responsible business plan, it’s ensuring that those digital futures become a reality. Enter Rose Stuckey Kirk, Senior Vice President and Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer for Verizon, who heads the team responsible for leveraging the technology and resources that help drive positive societal change for vulnerable populations. In her 20+ years of working with Verizon, Kirk has seen the company bear witness to many social changes. In her current role, she oversees its corporate social responsibility investment strategy and its successful rollout. The Fight for...

Aug 10, 2021

We Are Memphis: 'If You Come Here, And You’re Ready To Work, Memphis Will Work For You'

Don’t sleep on Memphis. If you’re not paying attention, you could miss the hottest ticket coming out of the South right now. Memphis, Tennessee, is home to a thriving, emergent tech scene. Many businesses, especially those helmed by women and business owners of color, are making their mark there. And the support provided by the entrepreneur hub Epicenter is helping them make that happen. As an anchor for WMC Action News 5, Kontji Anthony is living proof that if you have a great idea, all you need is the right network to get it off the ground. She found that in Epicenter, which connects emergent entrepreneurs to community and capital. In 2020, Anthony launched a Facebook group, Product Sightings, with her sisters after noticing an immediate need in a new, pandemic-ravaged reality. Supply chains were breaking down, and people were going without desperately needed items during the lockdown. This is how the idea for their app, also called Product Sightings , was born. “This whole...

Jul 7, 2021

10 Ways To Get Noticed By Amazon: Why This Recruiter Believes That Connection Is Key

The post-Covid jobscape is a whole new frontier for candidates of color looking to break into the new market. This is especially true for those hoping to join highly competitive companies. Though finding a job at larger companies seems daunting, it’s not impossible. Theo Burton, a talent manager and Diversity Ambassador at Amazon, has a solid piece of advice for candidates: “Life is short. Nowadays you can’t be afraid to rub with people the wrong way. Just get out there, handle yourself in a professional manner and keep it moving.” Theo is the real deal when it comes to talent acquisition. The recruiting veteran has over a decade of leadership and talent recruitment experience. His experience has taken him to recruiting roles at Robert Half International, and he was an early adopter employee at LinkedIn before landing at Amazon five years ago. Since his tenure began, he’s moved from consumer talent recruitment into a head HR recruiter role. So, he’s on the team that recruits the...

Jun 17, 2021

Black in Tech: Meet Two Amazon Employees Blazing Trails in the South

When we think of the latest news in the tech scene, we often train our gaze out west, keeping an eye on Silicon Valley for the latest tech innovations and IPO sound bytes. But in doing so, many of us miss out on the expertise and insights of brilliant minds in the emergent tech scene in the South. Hubs like Jackson, Mississippi, Austin, and of course, Atlanta are serving up a goldmine of tech innovation. So why don’t we know more about them? We caught up with two Atlanta-based changemakers to learn more about the tech hub in the southern states. Nashlie Sephus and Ivan Walker are longtime friends and tech founders who’ve been paving the way for the Black tech community in recent years. The Georgia Tech grad school grads form a critical part of Amazon’s AWS team while maintaining strong ties with outreach initiatives in the community. Nashlie and Ivan are co-founders of The Bean Path , a nonprofit organization based in their hometown of Jackson. It creates strong tech foundations in...

Jun 2, 2021

6 Ways Small Minority Businesses Are Getting a Lift from Partnering with Amazon

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand for online goods and services. Many businesses are moving to the web as a result. However, some owners need help navigating the digital retail space. Amazon has become their haven. More than 50% of products purchased on Amazon come from third parties. And those sellers are primarily small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). SMBs are growing like never before thanks to the online marketplace, which is ideal for small, minority-owned businesses. They are one of the fastest-growing categories of small business. As a result, they are substantial contributors to many U.S. communities’ economies. One of SMBs’ biggest hurdles is getting their products and services to their target audiences. So Amazon stepped in. Since 2000, it has helped SMBs reach more than 300 million customers. Between 2019 and 2020, Amazon invested over $30 billion in fostering SMB growth and brand awareness. In 2020, it launched more than 250 tools and services to help...

Apr 15, 2021

How Two Black Professionals Are Carving Their Paths At Robinhood

A lot goes on behind the scenes at a startup in the FinTech industry. Beyond finding new ways to disrupt the financial industry, innovative startups facilitate entry into the financial markets for a new generation of investors. One such startup is Robinhood , a FinTech company with a groundbreaking approach to investing that’s making a huge impact on the way people approach finance. Beyond being the modern person’s answer to making Wall Street moves, there’s a lot more than meets the eye. Robinhood’s mission of “democratizing finance for all” isn’t limited to its customers. After being ranked a LinkedIn Top Startup four years in a row, as well as 2021’s “Best Place to Work” by Glassdoor, it’s clear that even during the most challenging times, the company is investing in its people. We sat down with two of Robinhood’s bright stars to learn more about their career paths, what led them to Robinhood and what it’s like behind the scenes. Briana Richardson, Head of Market and Product...

Apr 12, 2021

Doing the Most Good: Meet the Medical Tech Company That’s Revolutionizing Cancer Research

Cancer affects nearly two million new people in the United States each year. And while many medical research companies are racing to find a long-term solution, there are still critical pieces of the cancer care enigma that need to be resolved. Flatiron Health partners with more than 280 community cancer clinics across the United States, seven major academic cancer centers and 20+ top developers of oncology therapeutics, as well as the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and others. The healthcare technology and services company got its start in 2012 and has seen incredible growth as it pursues its mission “to improve lives by learning from the experience of every cancer patient.” While this sentiment is widely shared, research doesn’t actually capture the experiences of every patient. And while it’s undeniable that innovating cancer care and collecting the relevant patient data to do so is a priority, Flatiron...

Mar 31, 2021

Facebook Elevate Is Helping Black and Latinx & Hispanic Professionals Shape a New Future in the Digital Economy

This past year has seen many professionals arrive at a crossroad. Whether it’s contemplating a long-term career change or simply confronting the way business operates on a day-to-day basis, most professionals are being pushed to keep their eyes on emergent industry trends and developments more than ever before. No matter the stage of their career, it’s undeniable that many people have been forced to take a hard look at what the future holds. This is especially true for Black and Latinx & Hispanic professionals who are just entering the job market and facing a make-or-break time in their career journey. With the current workforce facing unprecedented shifts, it’s more important than ever for professionals of color to find ways to get ahead of the employment and wealth gaps that experts predict will continue to disproportionately affect them. Facebook Elevate aims to bridge that gap. Shaping Our Futures and Breaking Barriers Facebook Elevate is a learning platform offering invaluable...

Mar 5, 2021

Let's Be Real For a Minute: Why Embracing Authenticity Could Be the Key to Killing It in Your Tech Interview

The job-hunting process can be a harrowing experience, especially as the economy continues to shift in unpredictable ways. Landing an interview is a great opportunity to show a potential employer everything that makes a candidate shine. However, for many Black and brown professionals looking to break into tech, this process can be particularly complicated as they discover there are levels to the concept of “bringing your whole self” into the professional sphere. So many companies at different scales spout a doctrine of diversity while still fostering norms and a culture of professionalism that leave many candidates of color feeling excluded, undervalued and invisible. For too many of those candidates, there’s an implicit understanding that, to get hired, they have to hide many crucial parts of their identity to be seen as a viable candidate — creating undue racially biased pressure on them. To bridge this cultural gap and reduce turnover, companies are looking for better solutions...

Mar 5, 2021

Paving the Way for Black Excellence: How Amazon Is Opening Doors for the Next Generation of Black Trailblazers

Throughout this year’s Black History Month, it was remarkable to see how the Black community recognized and uplifted each other. #BlackExcellence is everywhere. This year, Amazon celebrated by turning the spotlight on the Black creators, innovators and entrepreneurs doing big things and creating history in real time. From artists to makers to tech professionals and more, there’s no shortage of #BlackHistoryMakers leaving a mark. “All of the contributions that Black people have made […] can’t be contained to just one month,” declares Latasha Gillespie, the Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Amazon Studios, Prime Video and IMDB. Amazon strives to create a space where Black employees feel empowered to grow their careers and continue to step up into leadership positions. This year, Amazon kicked off its BHM celebration by highlighting its innovative employees and partners who are creating real and long-lasting change within the community. The BEN Scholarship Amazon’s Black...

Mar 3, 2021

Meet Two Facebook Engineers Who Are Paving the Way for the Next Generation of Black Tech Professionals

These days, pursuing a career in tech is not just aspirational — it’s a way of life. But for Black professionals in tech, approaching those aspirations looks a little different. With rampant underrepresentation at every level, it can be difficult for Black professionals to find access points into the tech industry, much less a means to build a long-term career. And let’s be honest, the numbers behind those disparities bear out . Traditionally, the tech world hasn’t been encouraging to people of color looking to break those barriers. However, more tech companies are holding themselves accountable by creating fresh initiatives to create a path forward for Black and brown professionals , especially those looking to make long-term career moves. Facebook is one of the companies making that happen, and there’s never been a better time to launch a career there. Though it can seem intimidating for tech hopefuls looking to join the ranks, it isn’t impossible. And recently, the social media...

Feb 24, 2021