Studies show that black women are the most educated and entrepreneurial group in the United States. According to data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, there has been an 265% increase of black women-owned business between 1997 and 2014. Because of black women, over 1.5 million businesses have generated over $44 billion a year in revenue, while being responsible for the livelihood of roughly 400,000 workers.
With all these overwhelming stats, why is it still that black women are still sitting in the background as some of the world’s leading innovators? Tech writer Sherrell Dorsey found a way to give those innovators the spotlight they deserve.
Dorsey is the founder of ThePlugDaily.com, the only daily technology newsletter that covers founders, innovators and investors of color. Launching just a year ago in 2016, the Seattle, WA native challenged herself to find five stories a day that feature entrepreneurs of color, a challenge that she and her team welcomed with open arms.
“I’ve been a tech writer for the past four years. Part of that responsibility of being on top of trends and watching how reporters cover innovators, I found that I was not seeing a ton of coverage in a substantial way of entrepreneurs of color,” Dorsey said. “The people that were being quoted or asked to be on panels, it didn’t really reflect the type of environment that I knew existed.” One of the unique features of The Plug is each story highlights business owners that fall into the categories of entrepreneurs who are getting funding, those who are pitching for funding, business owners who recently launched and most importantly, tracking those who drive some of the innovation. “We highlight people like the marketing tech officer who is helping to track the new trends in wearable technology used in healthcare,” Dorsey said. “We see that in the lens of people of color contributing to the conversation that you don’t see elsewhere and it’s not in a tokenized way that a lot of our publications have used in the past.”
Since launching the daily publication, the Fashion Institute of Technology alum and her team, Managing Editor, Tyler Young and Creative Director, Korey Mac, have built a foundation in the tech world far away from Silicon Valley, with ThePlugDaily.com headquarters being stationed in Charlotte, NC, also known as the Queen City.
“Charlotte has some really great resources but I was constantly in this space where I’m the only person of color or the only woman or just not being at a dope event,” the 30-year-old said. “I just had this feeling that Charlotte is missing something so what do we do?”
Within three weeks, Dorsey hosted the first #BlkTechCLT, a networking event geared toward people of color in the technology industry. She anticipated close to 40 people to come out, however, the word spread, expanding the RSVP list to 125 people.
That event opened up some doors for other “techies” like Sherrell. She recently partnered with the Carolinas Small Business Development Fund to start the #BlkTechClt Fund, a $100,000 microloan fund to offer capital business services to African-American entrepreneurs in Charlotte with access to one-on-one counseling and technical assistance to grow their business, something that Dorsey is passionate about. “I want to look at how I can continue to support entrepreneurs of color and change some of these challenges that we have when it comes to funding women and minorities,” the current Columbia University student says. “I think my next step would be getting into venture capital or some sort of investment mechanisms where I can invest in people that are changing communities.”
Dorsey will be studying in a nine month Data Journalism Master’s program where she says she wants to master this space, specifically the kind of information on black leadership and black innovators in our country.
While making a name for herself as a writer in tech world hasn’t been easy, she encourages others alike to continue to chase their dreams but make sure to find the story that no one is looking for. “The goal of journalism is to help share the opinions and the struggles of people,” Dorsey advises. “That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be an oh whoa it’s me kind of story, just asking a different kind of question.” She also wants future tech gurus and writers to be open to the changing trending topics of the industry.