HLN meets… the founder of Teakisi
We caught up with founder Salha Kaitesi to talk about how race continues to divide in the Digital Age and how giving BAME communities better access to technology could help bridge the gap.
Ahead of her Teakisi Women Talk event on Saturday at the gorgeous venue The Common Room, we caught up with Salha Kaitesi to look back on her journey of empowering BAME communities so far and the part race plays in the digital divide.
What’s Teakisi all about?
Everything has changed from when I initially set Teakisi up as a blog. I began to realise I was struggling to make ends meet and decided to make things more sustainable by registering as a CIC. We’re now a community hub for African women, the African community and other minority communities – giving prominent access to free events and helping others learn new skills, ranging from creating their own social media accounts and helping them design their own websites to collaborations. We do this because we’re passionate about fighting inequality, so we need to do everything we can to uplift people.
What inspired you to set up Teakisi?
It was initially to give me a voice through an online platform where I could speak my mind and share my ideas as an African woman. As it started to grow, some realised that there are many other African women – not just here in the North East, but worldwide going through the same thing. So I opened it up to be a multiuser platform, so many of our voices can be heard.
We still continue to update this platform even though we’re a CIC, through our creative residency, where we invite women from African backgrounds to join us and write their truth: to empower each other and to share experiences, but also to learn how to write because a lot of them have something to say but don’t know how to put it into words. So, hopefully, by the time they finish their residency, they’re able to either open their own blogs or even become journalists.
What do you love most about your job?
The positive feedback I receive from anyone who’s used our services. I absolutely love what I do, but it’s tough to know if you’re doing something right at times. I love when I get a message or we get feedback on the website, as it really gives me a boost and makes all the hard work worth it.
What can we expect at your Teakisi Woman Talk event this Saturday?
First of all, we are at a gorgeous venue, The Common Room. This event would not be possible had it not been for the support and generosity from the team there, who uplift and help small organisations like ourselves by letting us host at their premises. We’re expecting a few local organisations and individuals to have stalls on the day, which allows guests to buy locally-made products, let them showcase their work as well as directing people on where else they can go for additional help and support.
There’ll also be excellent speakers that you probably wouldn’t see at your everyday conferences. We’re giving minorities a platform to connect with experts in their fields who will be sharing their experiences and expertise. We like to showcase that there are minorities doing fantastic work within our community, which will hopefully help inspire and empower our guests.
Talk to us about your chosen theme of Community and Connectivity: Bridging The Digital Divide?
For such a long time, we’ve all known that there was a digital divide. But it was actually pushed to the forefront because of Covid. We’ve had children who had no laptops to do their homework on and families who couldn’t connect because they didn’t have Wi-Fi or their data ran out. So, it almost feels like we live in a world where there are people who are going to be able to get the education and do the jobs and there are people who don’t get those same opportunities simply because they can’t afford or access the technology they need. There should be no inequality for accessing information.
What do you think the reason is for the digital divide?
Income. We know that most of those receiving the lowest incomes are black and minority groups. So we’re the ones who are left suffering, due to not being able to access technology or purchase data. For example, Zoom calls used a lot of data over lockdown when using it on your phone. But in addition, a lot of people can’t even afford a phone. Poverty within the community doesn’t allow many people to access technology, which results in a lack of job opportunities and personal growth.
There’s also a lack of skills in using technology, as some members of our community don’t know how to set up an Instagram account to advertise their business. So, that’s why Teakisi is here to help.
What is the purpose of your event?
We’re hoping to discuss the digital divide and would like to see organisations and individuals share their ideas on how we can all overcome this. Hopefully, by having this discussion, our leaders will listen and somehow become aware of this information. I’m also hoping that people will realise that Teakisi can offer digital skills to individuals and organisations to help give people an equal chance.
What’s next for Teakisi?
We want to grow to be a reliable community resource and hub, where people who need digital skills will think about us. The rest of the directors and I are here, and we’re ready to receive as much work as we can as we want to see a change in the community through the work we’re doing – that’s our dream. We’re not doing this just because of profit; we’re doing this because we want to make a difference in our community.
We’re keen to get more collaborators and are eager to reach out to any international students who come into the community to study, as we are here to help them and make them feel part of something here.
If you would like to attend Salha’s Teakisi Women Talk event this Saturday, register here.