Olabi empowers marginalised communities through technology education and diversity advocacy
The underrepresentation of women and black people in the technology industry, particularly in Brazil, hampers diversity and can lead to biased technologies. While efforts are being made to address this challenge, the trend excludes a significant portion of the population and perpetuates inequalities in technology development.
Olabi is a social organisation that started in 2014 as a maker space and innovation hub in Rio de Janeiro to bring new audiences into technical education programs to tackle social problems.
The organisation recognised the pressing need to address the underdeveloped technological skills in marginalised communities, especially among women, black women, older individuals, and children from diverse economic backgrounds. The team understood that for people to be active participants in society, access job opportunities, and exercise their rights, they need to have a solid grasp of technology, particularly digital technology.
Olabi’s approach involves flipping the traditional method of teaching technology. Instead of assuming that people will know what to do with technology once they learn it, Olabi meets individuals where they are and introduces technology learning in their respective contexts. For instance, Olabi created a community of black women already working in technology. This community empowers its members to grow their knowledge, invites other black women to learn and connect, and facilitates their entry into positions within the industry.
Similarly, for older individuals, Olabi encourages them to teach courses in their areas of expertise, such as cooking or knitting, while also providing them with the necessary digital skills to utilise platforms like Zoom. By demonstrating how technology can enhance existing activities, Olabi empowers individuals to embrace new opportunities.
Over the years, the organisation has demonstrated remarkable progress in its mission. It has established numerous partnerships with civil society organisations, public agencies, and private entities, including collaborating with major technology companies to increase the diversity of their teams.
At its core, Olabi is a repository of high-impact initiatives and programs that can pave the way for a more inclusive technological and innovative world. As an innovation laboratory, Olabi constantly creates and tests new methodologies to address pressing issues. Once these methodologies are proven effective, the organisation encourages their replication by large-scale public and private institutions.
We look forward to supporting Olabi in building a technological and innovation ecosystem that embraces diversity in gender, race, and age, fostering a deeper understanding of the role of new technologies and emphasising their critical role in constructing a fair and inclusive world.