• Jazgul Ismailova


In the aftermath of the George Floyd tragedy and global protests for racial justice, Swedish tech companies and the startup community condemned racial injustice. Some of them donated to the racial justice organizations in the USA, posted #blackouttuesday black squares on their Instagram accounts, and shared books and documentaries to raise awareness.

Unless companies and organizations are transparent in their strategies and metrics for fostering diversity and inclusion, those simple actions of condemnation can be easily classified as a marketing spin or PR-activity.

A couple of weeks ago, Allbright published the tech industry report in which alarming bells were rung with regards to gender and racial discrimination in the Swedish tech industry. According to the report, among 37 founders included in their research, there was only one female founder and one non-European founder. Moreover, among the employees in tech companies, 36% of women experienced discrimination, and a daunting 67% of non-white women perceived that their background and identity negatively affected their career opportunities. Finally, among ten large VC companies, only 12% are female partners.

In a progressive and democratic country like Sweden, people, regardless of their skin color or gender, should have opportunities to build and grow their startups and raise capital.

How to make the Swedish startup ecosystem and tech industry free from discrimination?

Condemning racism and raising awareness is not sufficient to cause structural changes. The power of 10X thinking should be applied to spur positive transformation. Here is my list of recommendations for driving 10x changes.

  • Launch funds and programs to support entrepreneurs with underrepresented backgrounds. Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) announced this week the Talent x Opportunity Fund (TxO) program and USD 2.2M initial fund. Similar initiatives could be implemented in Sweden.

  • Investors should set requirements for startups to strive for a mixed founder team.

  • Angel investor networks should be curated to support underrepresented founders.

  • Startup networks and incubators should provide mentorships, events, and training to support underrepresented founders.

  • Tech companies should set and follow-up KPIs on equality and diversity at the executive management level.

  • There should be a transparent reporting and ranking available to follow-up the industry development and funding of underrepresented founders.

Sparla is a new fintech startup that is committed to diversity and inclusion. Among the three co-founders, two are females. Our purpose is to break the curse of overconsumption.

We are looking for cooperation with circular brands and investors who share our vision. Please contact us at hello@sparla.co. If you want to be among the first to test Sparla, please sign up at sparla.co.

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