Harnessing Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship: A Report on What We Can Learn from Black Youth’s Responses to COVID-19

Throughout the month of May 2020, Global Black Youth (GBY) partnered with the Portulans Institute and civil society organizations to hold a three-part webinar series: ‘Black Communities Respond to COVID-19.’ Our weekly discussions focused on knowledge produced in the Global South and included innovators, disruptors, and entrepreneurs from Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Mozambique, Rwanda, Brazil, and Colombia. Our audiences reached a large cohort of young people and represented an even wider array of countries, ethnic and racial backgrounds. 

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What are the main findings? 

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is evident that within the Diaspora, the media has covered almost exclusively the disproportionate mortality rate of Black populations. Very few media platforms have mentioned the ideas, knowledge, and innovations produced by Black youth for stability and recovery. Continuing to marginalize their work and contributions is a missed opportunity that hurts not only Black communities but also the wider world.  

Through the GBY series, we see what is possible when young Black people are equipped to mobilize the latent potential around them and turn it into opportunity – particularly because young people are often our greatest asset. Black innovators and entrepreneurs are changing the dominant narratives about themselves, their lives, and their communities. They are creating new decentralized spaces for progress, innovation, and inclusivity. Their initiatives are working locally, regionally, and globally, and support for their projects should similarly come from both local and international partners. 

They are much better equipped to understand and fight the spread of COVID-19 in their communities and build new avenues to mitigate the inevitable fall out. The importance of Black youth taking control and shaping the narrative of their endeavors in these times cannot be overemphasized. 

The way forward?

GBY aims to create spaces for Black youth to connect with one another and see themselves as part of a global community, which forges linkages between Africa and the Diaspora and within the African continent.  Like the webinars, the GBY Fest and the GBY Fellowship highlight the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of Black youth and showcase how their work is changing the narrative of Black people. 

As commented by GBY co-founders: 

 

Niousha Roshani 

“We are living in a time where young Black people are rejecting the unjust status quo and the dominant public narratives that have undermined their potential and contributions to our global society. A time of pandemic, a time of climate crisis, a time of structural racism and systems that no longer (and in many cases), never served us. This time presents opportunities that young Black people have taken full advantage of.” Nyeleti Honwana   

 

 

 

Nyeleti Honwana   

“They are not waiting for systems to change; they are changing them! Their revolutionary innovations, entrepreneurship, and desire to connect to one another, is why GBY’s work to amplify and support their initiatives globally is so important.  Unless we disrupt our current logic of business as usual, we will continue to under-invest into the unnurtured capacity and contributions of young Black innovators and entrepreneurs and bear the high costs of exclusion.”  Niousha Roshani 

 

 

 

Through initiatives, GBY amplifies innovations, fosters collaboration, and the development of new economies for communities that have been ignored and/or relegated to the periphery. GBY believes that only by centering the perspectives, knowledge, and expertise of young Black leaders will we ultimately develop sustainable solutions to the major challenges we face today.

 

 

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