After Tamar Huggins lost her advertising job in 2009 during the Great Recession, she decided it was time to accept her calling as an entrepreneur. “I was fearful of the unknown, yet optimistic about the freedom and possibilities that entrepreneurship was able to provide, especially during such a chaotic time,” Huggins says.
Seven years laters, Huggins is an author and serial entrepreneur that has mentored startup members, helping them to raise 1.1 million to fund projects through her tech support programs DRIVEN and Tech Spark. Now Huggins is on a mission to collaborate with over 10,000 educators across North America, to teach coding and other technology skills in classrooms.
Huggins shares more on how she is aiding the effort to increase the number of minority creators and innovators in tech, below:
BLACK ENTERPRISE: Tell us about your top two success stories.
Huggins: One of our entrepreneurs-in-residence created Post Beyond, an enterprise employee communication solution. [That person] has gone on to raise more capital for his business, creating more jobs for minorities in the space.
My most recent success story is my baby, Tech Spark, which started out as an idea in 2012, and has since evolved into Canada’s first tech and design school for diverse youth. We officially launched in 2015, and within one year, we educated over 300 kids across the Greater Toronto area. We raised close to half a million dollars to date, thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. As of today, we are on track to educate 20,000 youth by the year 2020.
BE: What is the biggest thing that you would like to see change in technology, and how are you working toward making that change happen?
Huggins: My goal is to increase the number of women and people of color we see as creators and innovators in tech. Society tells young girls and children of color who they should aspire to become, and being a leader in tech is not one of them. To create real social impact, we implement programs that are led by minorities, as it’s important for our students to see people who look like them. We hire educators who experienced the social, educational, and financial barriers our students also face. Our educators then incorporate key skills, such as critical thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving into each program, which ultimately provides students with skills they need to be successful in life.