Amanda Spann is a trailblazer in a field that isn’t necessarily brimming with people of color. The Florida State University and Georgetown graduate has been recognized for her particular brand of genius, thanks to the accolades she has received based on her passion and ability to engage her community in an industry that desperately needs to be flourished with diversity.
After speaking with her, I could completely understand how she was honored as one of Business Insider’s 30 Most Important Women in Tech Under 30 and as one of BET’s Blacks on the Brink of Greatness. Pretty impressive right? Well, there’s more – she also garnered a spot as one of 5 future leaders in technology, courtesy of Black Enterprise Magazine.
Spann is able to juggle her devotion to innovative science while also serving as the Communications and Content Manager for IBM Computing Category. It’s clear that she is quite immersed in the world of global technology, but most importantly she is determined to bring the African American community along for the ride. This is the main reason why she co-founded and and served as CMO of Bierdology, a social platform that was implemented to support and encourage African Americans with a healthy affinity for the tech world. The company also gave burgeoning minority entrepreneurs the chance to advance their projects and connect with other likeminded individuals in an effort to propel their agendas and dislocate the stereotypes that plague people of color when it comes to our involvement and interest in the technology sector.
Bierdology hackathons, were the instilled sessions, Spann utilized to spearhead connectivity within African American techies, and this became the launching pad for her trip to Africa earlier this year. It was an insightful and educational venture that exposed Spann and her participants to various outfits in key locations on the continent.
We couldn’t wait to hear a detailed summary about the trip including Spann’s future projections for women entrepreneurs both in the Diaspora and the U.S.
MTB: How was the initiative to embark on this innovative excursion to Africa conceived, and what prompted your selection of the countries you visited?
AS: A few months ago, one of the attendees of my Blerdology hackathons asked me if I would be interested in going to Africa on an excursion. Never having been to Africa before, I was immediately intrigued and it seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime however I thought the trip would be more impactful if we could rally women across the social innovation and entrepreneurship space to embark on the journey together. So we contacted parties we thought would make a good fit and assembled a dynamic group of leaders to participate with us.
The countries were selected based on the buzz surrounding their start-up eco-systems as well as attendees existing relationships with founders, leaders and innovators in these regions. Africa has 56 countries and I’m certain we only had a taste of what the continent has to offer has a whole.
MTB: Are African women faring well in the tech industry and what improvements can be made to ensure that healthy global competition?
AS: African women are faring well and there is certainly no lack of interest in STEM, but as in most regions of the world technology is still very male dominated. African women need easier access to education and mentorship/internship opportunities from fellow women in tech. I think African entrepreneurs as a whole would benefit from the improvement of electrical connectivity across several regions and a realignment of technical talent. There’s no shortage of ingenuity or genius in Africa, but that talented don’t always have the opportunity to be fostered, groomed, and harnessed.
I think Africa as a whole could be and very much is self sustaining and when they do slowly but surely fix internal issues we’re going to see a second scramble for resources from the continent.
MTB: Which country out of the ones that were targeted showed the most productivity and why?
AS: Well each country had its own unique set of offerings. I was particularly impressed by Co-Creation Hub in Lagos, Nigeria. A 4 story social innovation and communi-tech center that focused on incubating talent for the betterment of their country. My peers were also blown away by iHUB Nairobi – they said it offers absolutely everything an entrepreneur needs to be successful.
MTB: How would you summarize the overall success of your informational trek and what are your thoughts for the future as it pertains to female entrepreneurs in the Diaspora?
AS: I would say that it was hugely successful, humbling and insightful. We’re in the beginning stages of planning for next year and are working to mold the excursion into something that bridges trans-atlantic relations while preserving the integrity of what makes each continent so unique.
In regards to female entrepreneurs, I think the future is limitless for us because we now have the power to create it. There are still huge strides to be made globally but one social entrepreneur at a time, our world is slowly cultivating into a place where all aspiration can be explored and executed.