“NewME Community will serve as a meeting place for local minority entrepreneurs to gather, learn, network, and share with each other for the greater good of the community.” – NewMe Community’s mission statement
“New Media Entrepreneurship” – no, I’d not heard of it either until reading NPR’s article
detailing the purpose – and some of the people – of a new Silicon Valley-centered initiative to “add more diversity” to the entrepreneurial start-up scene there. This, according to “boot camp” sponsor NewMe, comes as a response to the continued lack of “women and people of color” participating in the community of young, motivated, tech-y entrepreneurs making their mark in Silicon Valley and far beyond.
The gist: an overwhelming majority of the entrepreneurs that build their start-up empires in Silicon Valley are young, white, “nerdy” guys (more than 90% male/caucasian, to give more shape and weight to it). So what’s at stake? How and why should initiatives like NewMe’s be implemented and taken seriously?
Contemporary culture seems a world densely populated by and simply overflowing with ideas — those seeds of innovation and progress that so often defy and completely reconfigure pre-existing modes of thinking, being, and doing. The issue at hand is expressly n0t a lack of ideas but, rather, just which of those ideas are bolstered, and how, and why. Answering this requires critical attention and a willingness to accept the issue’s complexity. In other words, it isn’t only traditional stereotyping of men as business-savvy; it isn’t just social mores that have discouraged minority groups from participating in higher education; and it surely isn’t purely about money, or knowing people, or socio-economic status. It’s all of this and more.
Without rambling on much further it’s most important to declare the importance of providing encouragement and opportunities for all individuals, especially those who’ve been previously marginalized or underrepresented, to stake their claim (in this instance) in such a fertile and dynamic economic industry.
The sort of progressive workshops offered by start-ups like NewMe and, of course, by initiatives like The OpEd Project, are boons for the diversification in many fields, including (but not limited to) journalism and entrepreneurship. Here’s a list of a few more organizations doing simliar work to deconstruct the barriers to equal-opportunity-and-access:
- Black Girls Code – programs for young girls of color who are interested in technology (the maths and sciences)
- Girls Who Code – same vein as above but, excitingly, founded by OpEd alum Kristen Titus!
- UNITY – a collective and extensive resource for Journalists of Color
- National Association of Investment Companies (NAIC) – an advocate for minority groups in the private equity industry
- 500 Startups – also based in the Silicon Valley, this organization works to foster/fund a diverse and “vibrant community” of start-ups
- 100 Urban Entrepreneurs – nonprofit focusing on start-ups originating in urban communities by “supporting minority entrepreneurship at its earliest stages”
– J. J. Morr