With just 3% of the tech workforce being Black women and a staggering 89% of companies lacking even a single BIWOC in leadership, it’s clear that tech and C-suites remain stubborn fortresses for minority groups. The gaps are glaring, and businesses are failing to address them.
But the tide is turning. Changemakers are rising, smashing through the status quo and paving the way for a more inclusive future. These trailblazers aren’t just innovating and progressing; they’re actively building ecosystems where Black and underrepresented communities can thrive. Their success isn’t just personal; it’s a powerful testament to the fact that diverse talent fuels flourishing businesses, profitable growth, and lasting success.
1. Shanea Leven, Founder and CEO, CodeSee
Shanea Leven is a technological genius. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Columbia College and a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Maryland. Before she launched her own company called CodeSee (more on that later), she was the VP of Product Management at Lob. When she worked primarily as a developer, she was part of the key teams that built the code that sustained huge companies like Docker, eBay, and Google.
Shanea used the frustrations she encountered as a developer to come up with CodeSee, a tool that can automate the analysis of data in a developer’s system. This helps developers better understand their codebases – effectively saving them from spending hours reading thousands of lines of code to find a single bug. CodeSee has taken off and is helping individual developers and companies to simplify their coding processes, making the overall experience less painful and tedious.
2. Jewel Burks Solomon
Jewel Burks Solomon is the managing partner of Collab Capital, an investment firm focused on providing Black entrepreneurs the social, human and financial capital they need to build profitable businesses. Prior to COLLAB, Jewel served as the co-founder of Partpic, a startup designed to streamline the purchase of maintenance and repair parts using computer vision, changing the way people locate products. Partpic raised over $2 million in seed funding, and Jewel successfully sold the company to Amazon in late 2016, where she led the integration of Partpic’s technology into Amazon’s Mobile App.
In addition to her role at COLLAB, Jewel also serves as Head of Google for Startups, US, where she works to level the playing field for underserved startup founders by bringing them the best of Google’s resources.
3. Jessica O. Matthews
Jessica O. Matthews is an award-winning entrepreneur, inventor, and social scientist with more than 10 years of demonstrated thought leadership in the future of smart cities, climate resiliency, and improving equitable access to infrastructure resources. She is the co-founder of Uncharted, which made Soccket, a soccer ball that can be used as a portable power generator. Matthews attended Harvard College and graduated from Harvard Business School.
Called “the Elon Musk of kinetic energy” by former U.S. chief technology officer Megan Smith, her groundbreaking research and career center around the intersection of disruptive technology, renewable energy, human behavior, and the psychology of self-actualization.
4. Charlene Hunter
Charlene Hunter is the CEO & founder of Coding Black Females. With a strong academic background from the University of Birmingham, she has over a decade experience as a Java and C# developer and technical architect. She also has skills in requirements capture, technical architecture, testing, and various other aspects of building successful software applications.
Charlene founded Coding Black Females because during her career journey as a Software Developer, she discovered Black women were heavily underrepresented in tech. She sought to change this, and ensuring that Black women were able to discover role models and see familiar faces within the industry.
Charlene has received multiple awards and recognition work she does to support Black women in tech.
5. Tamar Huggins
Tamar Huggins Grant is a multi-award-winning tech entrepreneur, author, and education trailblazer. Tamar created Canada’s first tech accelerator for underrepresented founders which shaped the Black and women-focused tech ecosystem in the country. In 2022 Tamar raised $1MM to build the first edtech platform that personalizes learning using data, AI, and hip hop culture.
Tamar’s work has impacted over 1,200 students in the Durham region. Despite being told a black woman would never be successful in tech, Tamar raised 7-figure investments for Tech Spark, educated over 1500 youth in under two years. Tech Spark is Canada’s first tech and design school committed to empowering children of colour, girls, women and teachers through innovative education.
6. Ada Nduka Oyom
Ada is the Founder of She Code Africa (SCA), a non-profit organisation focused on empowering young girls and women in Africa through technical skills. She founded SCA in 2016 and has since impacted over 17,000 women members across 20 African countries with her team, while championing gender diversity in tech through it. Starting out as a self taught software developer in the university, Ada has become involved in several other organisations within Africa’s technology sphere.
Her expertise in developer relations and staunch advocacy for developers within Africa has earned her roles in several top organisations globally, including her current engagement as the Ecosystem Community Manager for sub-Saharan Africa with Google.
Ada is also actively involved in advocating for open source in Africa, hence co-founded ‘Open Source Community Africa’, one of the largest communities for open-source enthusiasts, advocates and experts across Africa.
7. Neema Iyer
Neema is a technology leader and artist. She is the founder and the former executive director of Pollicy, a feminist civic technology collective based in Kampala, Uganda that uses data and technology to create social change. The company researches ways and implement projects through which Africans can regain control of their data and reimagine new forms of tech ownership.
Neema has led and conducted research with Pollicy, including about gender-based violence in Africa, and online safety for women, with reports illustrated by herself. In 2022, she announced a Digital Ambassadors program to promote the development of skills and access of young women in Africa to online technology.
8. Rachel Sibande
Rachel Sibande is the Founder of Malawi’s first technology and innovation hub, mHub. Rachel also serves as Program Director at the United Nations Foundation’s Digital Impact Alliance. She leads sector wide big data for development demonstration models in Africa. Rachel has extensive experience managing Technology led development projects in public health, agriculture, disaster management and elections monitoring in more than 14 countries.
Rachel became a Google Scholar in 2015, being a recipient of Google’s scholarship for outstanding computer science students from around the world. She is an alumni of the US government young african leaders Initiative. Mrs. Sibande is Malawi’s ambassador to the Next Einstein Forum that promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
9. Regina Honu
Regina Honu is the CEO of Soronko Academy, a leading technology, coding, and digital skills development center in Africa, pioneering the way for young people especially women and girls to realize their economic potential equipping them with the technical and soft skills they need to attain dignified, fulfilling jobs and overcome the gender gap in technology. The academy which is the first coding and human-centered design academy in West Africa has trained over 22,500 women & girls and has expanded to train boys, men, and children with disabilities.In 2022 she was recognized by GLITZ AFRICA Women of the Year Honors as an Honoree for Excellence in Technology.
Regina was named on the 2021 Quartz Africa Innovators Africa Innovators List: a dynamic group of over two dozen women from 12 countries and 15 sectors whose work dispels the myth that women are primarily focused on social sectors as opposed to areas that drive economies.
10. Sara Menker
Sara Menker is founder and CEO of Gro Intelligence, a technology company that is bridging data gaps across the global agriculture sector, empowering decision makers and creating a more informed, connected, efficient and productive global agriculture industry. She uses Gro Intelligence to investigate the impact of natural disasters, including droughts, on food supply.
Menker is a trustee of the Mandela Institute For Development Studies (MINDS) and a trustee of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). She was named a Global Young Leader by the World Economic Forum and is a fellow of the African Leadership Initiative of the Aspen Institute. Menker was born in Ethiopia and holds an MBA from Columbia University.