For decades, I’ve been a digital warrior in the trenches of the American business landscape, helping black-owned businesses navigate the treacherous digital terrain. But in November 2022, my mission took a global turn. Landing in Kigali, Rwanda, I found myself amidst a vibrant continent pulsating with entrepreneurial energy. Yet, a familiar echo resonated – a digital divide mirroring the struggles I witnessed back home.
Despite Rwanda’s ambitious digital transformation initiatives, businesses clung to the familiar comfort of paper, hesitant to embrace the transformative power of tech. This cautiousness, this underutilization of the tools that could propel them forward, struck a deep chord. It was like peering into a parallel universe, where the challenges of black-owned businesses in America played out on a different stage, with a different backdrop, but with the same script.
This past year in Rwanda, however, wasn’t just about deja vu. It was a revelation – a crystallizing moment that illuminated four undeniable truths shared by black and African communities across the globe:
- We are entrepreneurial trailblazers. Our veins hum with the spirit of innovation, the drive to build, to create, to leave our mark. We are the weavers of dreams, the architects of businesses that defy limitations.
- We face a common enemy – the digital divide. No matter the longitude, the barriers are eerily similar: limited access, tech-savviness gaps, a scarcity of resources and tools. We navigate a landscape where broadband signals fade and digital literacy remains elusive.
- We are missing out on the tech revolution. The tools that empower, the platforms that connect, the data that guides – we haven’t fully harnessed their potential to build, scale, and compete effectively. We are leaving untapped reserves of opportunity on the digital table.
- We underestimate the power of tech as a tool for economic equity. We haven’t fully grasped how technology can dismantle the walls of disadvantage, bridge the income gap, and create a level playing field for our businesses. We need to shift our mindset, to see tech not as a luxury, but as a weapon in the fight for economic justice.
My Rwandan journey wasn’t just about recognizing the echoes; it was about amplifying the solutions. It’s about building bridges across continents, sharing knowledge and resources, creating a global network of digital warriors. It’s about equipping our communities with the tools and the confidence to conquer the digital divide, not just in Kigali or Chicago, but everywhere the entrepreneurial spirit of Black and African communities thrives.
This is more than a mission; it’s a movement. It’s about rewriting the narrative, proving that the digital divide isn’t an insurmountable wall, but a hurdle we can leap together. It’s about reclaiming our rightful place in the digital age, building empires not just in brick and mortar, but in the boundless realm of the internet. Let’s harness the collective power of our ingenuity, our shared struggles, and our unwavering entrepreneurial spirit to bridge this divide, not just for ourselves, but for generations to come.
Remember, the future is digital, and we, the digital warriors of the Black and African diaspora, have a seat at the table. Let’s claim it, together.
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This article was first posted on Bizops.Africa.