This monthly diversity meet may be just what the UK tech community needs
- 10 July 2018
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Two years ago, Arfah Farooq and Murtaza Abidi decided to leverage technology’s ever-growing influence to promote diversity in the workplace. They turned their passion for technology and their love for their community into a meet that they named Muslamic Makers, aiming to bring together Muslims around the UK to discuss, pitch and share ideas in the tech space.
This not-for-profit community organises regular meetups every four to six weeks, bringing together Muslim creators, entrepreneurs and those working in tech as well as people from the UK tech scene at large. For every event, Arfah and Murtaza choose a different theme, and admission is free for all participants.
“It’s important for technology businesses to have people from different diverse backgrounds, because it’s reflected in the diversity of their business,” Arfah, a British-Pakistani marketing consultant, told My Salaam. “Young creative Muslims in the tech space have experienced a problem with the lack of role models. Now, we aim to make people see role models of their own age, people who have achieved something, so people realise it’s possible for them too to achieve success.”
One of the businesses that supported Muslamic Makers is WorldRemit, a UK-based, low-cost online service that lets people send and receive money throughout the world using a computer, smartphone or tablet. The company employs 400 staff members from diverse backgrounds and more than 30 nationalities.
“Ensuring a diverse workforce in today’s world helps connect markets, generate new and better ideas, and enrich a company’s culture,” Syeef Karim, a product designer at WorldRemit, told My Salaam.
Initiatives promoting ethnic diversity are not uncommon in the UK, where the Top 100 Asian Stars in UK Tech has run for four years in a row. However, no community has previously focused on Muslims as a minority group in this flourishing industry.
Now an established community of more than 800 members, Muslamic Makers has organised 15 events at seven different venues around the City of London, with more than 750 attendees. Their last event was hosted at the WorldRemit office in London and featured talks about the journey of founders, focusing on Muslim contributions in the technology sector in the United States, Pakistan and the UAE.
The non-profit community is funded, for the most part, by its own founders. “Being consistent is the real challenge,” Arfah said. “Consistency is what got us to where we are today.”
PLANS IN THE PIPELINE
In addition to promoting diversity in the workplace, Muslamic Makers events feature talks and discussions covering a wide range of topics, from success stories to financial technology. The community also tries to match tech entrepreneurs with potential young and energetic employees. To date, five people have already secured jobs during the past events.
The venture is starting to get more attention from tech companies, some of which are now helping to book venues and cover catering costs for attendees, but Arfah and her co-founder are still looking forward to recruiting the right people to help create new chapters in other cities in the UK, starting with Manchester. Their plans include organising events for young kids, including coding and programming workshops, and hands-on activities.
“We need to partner with the right people. People who share the same set of values that we do,” she said. “For us, it has been all about helping people, and giving them confidence in their identity and in being Muslims in their own spaces.”
(Editing by Seban Scaria)
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