Couple Works To Make Tech More Inclusive

Jenna Eason The Macon Telegraph

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) After running a successful technology business for nearly seven years, Christèle and Ariane Parham were inspired to create an organization called "Macon Black Tech." The goal of the organization is to create a space where all innovators can develop relationships and grow in the industry.

Macon

When Christèle Parham moved to Macon in March 2014 to help her future husband, Ariane Parham, with his technology company, they needed help to grow their business.

HamTECH Solutions was founded by Ariane in December 2012, and after Ariane and Christèle got married in September of 2014, they were looking for resources and trying to find people in Macon to receive some advice on how to grow their business.

Ariane ended up driving two hours north once a month to receive advice from a friend, but Christèle noticed something about the places they were looking for resources in Macon.

"We were connecting with all of these different startups, and there were no Black people. It just felt like this was a gap that needed to be addressed," Christèle said.

After running a successful technology business for nearly seven years, the two entrepreneurs decided to start a new endeavor in August 2019 called Macon Black Tech.

"Macon Black Tech is basically an organization that we've created to create safe spaces and build community centered around technology and innovation," she said. "I love tech and innovation. I just want people to be able to fall in love with it too."

Creating a safe space for innovation Being in the technology community for several years, Christèle said she and Ariane were fortunate to be able to build relationships within the community, but they wanted to create a space where other innovators could develop those relationships.

"We wanted to be able to provide a space where people feel like they can learn something, whether it's to solve a problem or to be around a community that is in the tech space," she said. "We are targeting communities that don't have those resources... We want to provide a safe space where they can learn from their failures."

Ariane said collaboration is at the heart of the organization, and they want to create a space where people can ask questions and learn without judgment.

"It's not about excluding or including only one race. It's about being able to empower a community. And so, with empowering a community that takes everybody," he said. "We see this as an opportunity to lift up Macon because if there are individuals who are in tech and creating tech businesses, that's for the betterment of the community."

Whenever Christèle asks people in the technology realm outside of Macon when they are coming to visit, she said they almost laugh it off. "My goal is when I meet people, they'll be like, 'Yeah, I can't wait to come to Macon,'" she said.

Coronavirus setbacks Because Macon Black Tech was founded in August 2019, they were just about to roll out events when the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down, Christèle said.

Initially, they planned to have events at different recreation centers in Macon, but when the recreation centers closed, they had to create a new plan.

They started having virtual events and recently hosted a Black history event with Thomas Duval and virtual networking events, she said.

"We really want to be able to utilize what's out there, so going to the recreation centers, going to just different spaces and even one of our first events was at Mercer. ... So, we want to be able to introduce and not you know reinvent the wheel," Ariane said. "They say it takes a village."

How to get involved Macon Black Tech is mainly self-funded with some sponsorships and volunteers helping create their popup classes, but people can support their work by sharing their expertise, volunteering, buying merchandise or investing in their initiatives at www.maconblacktech.com/get-involved.

Macon Black Tech is accepting applications for its Macon-Thon, where people interested in tech or innovation can test an idea that is social impact driven. The deadline to apply is April 2.

Christèle said people can contact them through their website at www.maconblacktech.com, and Ariane said they update their social media pages with their events. They also produce a podcast.

"Technology is here now and it's obviously the future. Technology is in every sector, no matter what it is, restaurants, farming, anything and everything, and so for Macon to progress forward, it's important for us to build that tech community here," Ariane said. ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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