WATERLOO REGION — Jessica Yamoah is using social media platforms created by white tech-bros to counter anti-black racism.
Yamoah is the executive director of Innovate Inclusion — a nonprofit that is trying to diversify the tech sector by promoting careers and economic opportunities among communities not typically well-represented in the startup economy.
Innovate Inclusion was formed after she observed that almost no one from Black, Indigenous and Hispanic communities in leadership positions in the tech sector.
“There are not a lot of people who look like me despite all the opportunities within innovation,” said Yamoah.
She works to raise awareness among minority communities about possible careers in technology, and the education needed to pursue those careers.
“If people and communities are looking for sustainable employment, economic stability, then technology is the best place to be,” said Yamoah.
She is a natural for that kind of advocacy work. She grew up in the neighbourhood behind Conestoga Mall with two sisters . Their parents came to Canada from Ghana about 40 years ago. One sister has a master’s degree in intellectual property law; the other has a certified human resources professional designation.
“I would have to give 99 per cent of the credit to my mom,” said Yamoah. “We have a matrilineal culture. The women from our culture are very strong, very insightful and very respected.”
He mother encouraged her daughters to succeed in school. She enrolled them in French immersion. Their mother also exposed them to the Congress for Black Women and other networks.
“I think people really undervalue the power of relationships and having really strong connections,” said Yamoah. “That’s what propelled me. That’s what helped me land some of these positions and work with some of these organizations.”