All Articles Tagged "Kathryn Finney"
After an unexpected layoff in April 2014, Mutale Nkonde was feeling desperate. She had always wanted to start her own business but was afraid that she couldn’t because she didn’t have the startup capital. After working with a credit counselor, she raised her credit score to be approved for a $10,000 business loan.
She founded and launched Year of the Black Woman in January 2015— an initiative thatincludes 365 online and in-person events to support the wealth creation of Black and Latina women. This is under the umbrella of her company Nkonde & Associates, an educational consultancy firm with a mission to increase the participation of Black and Latinas in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in the innovation economy.
Nkonde’s approach to building Black wealth is different from the conventional wisdom of encouraging entrepreneurship largely because data shows that entrepreneurship may be a necessary but insufficient factor for amassing immense wealth for women of color. Black women create businesses at a rate six times the national average yet, on average make $47,000 in revenue annually, the lowest amount across race and gender. Also, of the 335,000 black millionaires in the United States, only 15 percent are Black women.
Instead of following the path of bootstrapping and self-employment until retirement, Ntonde is advocating for Black women and Latinas to think bigger. She believes that this demographic needs to build tech companies and exit them through acquisition or initial public offering (IPO).
Because technology is the ultimate wealth equalizer.
Currently, Black women are woefully underrepresented in the tech start-up world which has become synonymous with being white, male, and under 30 years old.
And it is not a lack of creativity or hard work that keeps Black and Latina women from reaping the financial and social benefits of multi-million dollars payouts. It’s an issue of inclusion and access. Black women are chronically out of the loop when it comes to understanding the venture capital world.
Kathryn Finney, a brown girl angel investor and founder of digitalundivided is working hard to bridge this information and capital gap. Digitalundivided actively works to “disrupt pattern-matching in tech by identifying, training and supporting high performing Black women founders of tech enabled companies.” Before helping digitalundivided’s FOCUS Fellows raise over $10MM in angel/venture funding, she successful sold her blog The Budget Fashionista for a premium.
This concept of owning a tech company can be esoteric for the average Black woman business owner with an online presence. The average brown girl, independent of their digital presence, may see a disconnect between the businesses that they own and their working definition of what tech companies are. It is refreshing to know that tech companies go beyond the likes of Apple, Uber, and Microsoft, software development, apps, and coding.
Black and Latina leaders of tech companies span to include bloggers, online retailers, tech reporters, educators, and founders of socially conscious brands.
Women like Nkonde and Finney are needed resources and thought leaders for galvanizing the next generation of Black female tech millionaires. They are shifting Black women’s consciousness and understanding what wealth can actually look like for us in the digital space and sharing the blueprint for how to achieve it.
The possibilities are both lucrative and endless.
Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at www.thefrugalfeminista.com Download her free ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan: Eliminate Debt, Know Your Worth, and Heal Your Relationship with Money in Just 5 Days.
— Janel Martinez (@janelmwrites) October 4, 2014
As the rest of the world held a microscope over big name technology companies such as Apple, Facebook and Google when they rolled out their diversity data figures last summer, many minorities in tech — women, African Americans and Latinos — weren’t so surprised. It only takes a walkthrough at popular meetups or conferences in Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, and places in between, to see that one of today’s fastest-growing industries has a diversity issue.
That being said, there are women of color trailblazing the space and making sure African American and Latino women are represented in technology. One such woman is Kathryn Finney, managing director at Digital Undivided. Finney and team are the brains behind what has been called “the most diverse tech conference in the world.” Held at The Graduate Center at City University of New York, the two-day event (October 3-4), provided a mostly female audience with TED Talk-style addresses from Issa Rae, writer, producer and director and owner of Issa Rae Productions; Laura Weiden Powers, co-founder and executive director at CODE2040; and Sarah Kunst, venture investor, philanthropist and startup executive, among other powerful women in tech. There were also one-on-one chats with FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn; Maxine Williams, global head of diversity at Facebook; and a keynote address from actor, producer, writer and investor Omar Epps.
#FOCUS100 2014 offered no shortage of lessons for women looking to excel in digital and technology. Here, we highlight seven tips for women trying to break into tech:
— Peta Clarke (@MadamPeta) October 4, 2014
Can you imagine how innovative our world would be if we allowed ourselves to pursue each idea, no matter how impossible it may seem? So many ideas get killed before they even see the light of day. Research has shown that diversity fuels diverse ideas, so why not give your idea a shot? Of course it won’t be easy, but you could be filling an existing void. The industry needs it.
You don’t have to be technical
If coding isn’t your thing, don’t feel pressured to learn to do so in every existing coding language. That’s what developers are for. You can break into this industry working in a non-technical role such as analysis, business development, sales, recruitment or marketing.
Leverage your network and create meaningful relationships
Whether you’re a tech newbie or serial entrepreneur, you know that establishing relationships with others in the space is crucial. “Tech is all about relationships, so get involved with the tech scene, “ says Nicole Sanchez, founder of VIXXENN and former FOCUS Fellow. “Go to local events, build relationships with other entrepreneurs, and volunteer to get your foot in the door. It may take time, but when opportunities arise, people will know you and your work.”
Be seen…not just at niche tech events, but all tech events
While it may be more comfortable to attend events where the majority of attendees look like you, you’ll need to step outside of your comfort zone. It’s not to say you shouldn’t attend events geared toward women or people of color in tech, but in order to diversify your network and meet angel investors, venture capitalists or other entrepreneurs outside of your network, you’ll need to attend as many events as possible. You never know who’ll meet and how they can contribute to your venture—and vice versa.
Bring you’re A game…always
— Jennifer Arguello (@engijen) October 4, 2014
You’re not always going to have good days, but despite it all, put your best foot forward. You never know who you’re going to meet at an event/meetup. As the popular quote goes, “Success is where preparation meets opportunity.”
Create your own narrative
“You are the author of your own story, and the pen is in your hand.” @MandelaSH is bringing the noise!
— Tracey Solomon (@TraceySolo) October 4, 2014
The current narrative is there are no qualified African Americans, Latinos or women to fill the tech-talent pipeline. We know that’s not true. Don’t let the current landscape intimidate you or prevent you from creating your own story. Be confident in what you have to offer the tech space and, ultimately, the world.
Don’t take no for an answer
As an entrepreneur, you’ll get a lot of “nos.” Don’t let it stop you. “No means not yet.”
Based in New York City, Janel Martinez is a multimedia journalist who covers technology and entrepreneurship. She is the founder of “Ain’t I Latina?” an online destination geared toward Afro-Latinas. You can follow her up-to-the-minute musings on Twitter @janelmwrites.
Kathryn Finney, known as “The Budget Fashionista” and founder/managing director of digitalUNdivided (DID), was selected by the White House as a “Champion of Change for Tech Inclusion,” a program that honors people connecting youth — particularly people of color and women — with technology. DID is a social enterprise that fights to establish more minority presence on the web and other digital outlets. The name for the organization stems from the term “Digital Divide”, which describes the technology rift between the wealthy and the poor in the same country.
This year’s State of the Union address noted that more graduates should be immersing themselves in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Students in these areas — developers, engineers, and other innovators — will be the “driving force towards making the United States competitive, creative, and innovative,” a White House press release stated. Finney’s work in broadening the participation of underrepresented communities in STEM has caught the eye of President Barack Obama himself.
Sure technology and computing power has become cheaper, which has closed the divide quite a bit. But “we are eager consumers, we are not digital producers,” Major Carter Group said in an article about DID published last year. Minorities are buying, but not creating. The real divide lies in employment between White and Black employees for technology positions.
“Roughly one third of Twitter users are Black, yet less than 1 percent of Twitter employees can say the same,” added the Major Carter Group. This picture is representative of many large digital corporations today. Funding for starting digital businesses among Black and Women are scarce and our “percentage of the general population is not reflected in the number of tech-industry jobs,” it added.
Major rifts like this one has inspired Finney to narrow the gap and hence, come up with digitalUNdivided, to “fundamentally change the digital space by increase the number of urban digital entrepreneurs,” DID says.
“Digital Undivided has reached over 1 million people via impact focused targeted online and offline activities,” according to a press statement about Finney’s White House recognition.
Three years ago, Finney was named the one of the Top Women in Money by AOL with Suze Orman and Maria Shriver. Finney was honored with 10 other digital pioneers to receive the White House Champion of Change designation. Other honorees include Deena Pierott, founder and executive director of iUrban Teen Tech and Developers for Good.
Click here to see the honorary ceremony.
Kathryn Finney has seen the power of technology and its ability to change people’s lives. When her father decided to go back to school as an adult and transition to the technology field, she saw how it changed the entire trajectory of her family. He eventually became an engineer and worked at Microsoft.
Despite having grown up around computers, Finney didn’t go to college for engineering or computer science. She studied political science and women’s studies, and then epidemiology in graduate school. But in 2003, Finney started blogging as The Budget Fashionista, one of the first fashion blogs, which led to a book deal with Random House and appearances on the Today show, among others.
Again, she saw her life change because of technology. And now, as the founder of digitalUNdivided, she hopes to bring that type of change to others’ lives.
“Seeing the impact technology has had on me, and my experiences, and knowing how powerful it is to change the fortune of a family, I was and am interested in doing more,” Finney told MadameNoire.
As part of a tech incubator in 2007, she experienced the preconceived notions and prejudices that people in the technology industry had against women, and especially black women.
“It wasn’t about if my idea was bad or that no one was going to buy it. It had nothing to do with the idea or my skill set,” she admitted. “That idea stuck with me, about how the deck was stacked against us.”
So in 2012, Finney started digitalUNdivided, an organization designed to increase the number of black and Latino women in the technology space, and led its kickoff tentpole event, FOCUS 100. The event brought together technology innovators and investors of color, and featured 50 startup companies with at least one black female founder.
“We searched high and low,” she said. “We send emails to Carnegie Mellon’s outpost in Uganda. We went everywhere and asked everyone, if you know a black woman who has a tech company, send her our way.”
The event, held in early October 2012, was a success, and digitalUNdivided was off and running, with even more events planned for 2013. The organization currently has monthly Meetup groups in New York, Chicago, Detroit, the Bay Area, and will launch DC this year.
DigitalUNdivided is also hosting events in April in Atlanta and Detroit designed to get people started as digital entrepreneurs, not just with full-fledged companies, but also more side project-type activities.
“We believe there are tech opportunities out there, from being a blog to building your own mobile app, that may not be necessarily investment-worthy, but can have a huge impact fundamentally on your life,” Finney explained. “If your family is able to generate $30,000 or $40,000 extra because you wrote a blog, that is a major impact on our community.”
To celebrate her new book Profit With Purpose: A Marketer’s Guide to Delivering Purpose-Driven Campaigns to Multicultural Audiences, author and EGAMI Consulting Group founder Teneshia Jackson Warner teamed up with Dinner With Bevy‘s Bevy Smith for a dinner party/awards ceremony/”discotheque” (Smith’s word) at New York’s Beauty & Essex. The soiree was also focused on the cause-related work of the night’s honorees: P&G’s program My Black is Beautiful; Budget Fashionista and founder of digitalundivided (DID), Kathryn Finney; Black Girls Rock! founder Beverly Bond; celebrity stylist and host of ABC World News’ Cause Celeb with Phillip Bloch, Phillip Bloch; Disney’s Dreamers Academy, a program working in partnership with Essence and Steve Harvey to help high school students reach their career goals; and chef/reality TV star Chef Roble.
We’re going to have more from Warner about cause marketing and her book later this week. But the need for good works in the world is strong enough that we wanted to give the awards ceremony its own little shout out.
The 2012 Purpose Awards Dinner (#profitwithpurpose) was meant, according to the evening’s program, to celebrate with “a night of purpose” and “continue to drive the conversation.” The evening highlighted the social responsibility initiatives of the honorees, and the innovative approach with which they’re tackling their businesses, organizations, or passion projects.
When accepting his award, Bloch said, “When someone shines a light, we all shine a little brighter,” speaking to why it’s important for everyone to do what they can and then cheer that work to take it even further.
But before the accolades, one has to get started. In her acceptance speech, Bond said she only wanted to make a cool t-shirt when she started. Today, Black Girls Rock! has a televised awards ceremony that uplifts not just young girls, but women also.
When presenting the award, Warner thanked Bond for answering her calling. “We’re so happy that you said yes,” said Warner.
“We’re all connected and we’re all affected,” said Bond during her acceptance speech.
And if that wasn’t enough, there was good food, good music (Talib Kweli was DJing, with Bond jumping into the booth for a few minutes), and cocktails aplenty. Party with a purpose…
A day at the spa with your girls, tickets to a hot show, dinner at a chichi restaurant. All sounds great, but a budget buster, right? Not necessarily. Savvy sisters can hit the scene even when funds are all tied up by signing up with sites geared to the diva who loves a deal.
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