Exploring Communities of Practice: Spotlight on Zindi Community

We want to introduce the ESCALATOR community to inclusive digital and computational environments, fostering a sense of belonging for all. We’ve had the privilege of speaking with Rose Delilah Gesicho, who shed some light on the transformative initiatives led by Zindi Community.

Key Info

🎼 What would be the theme song of your community, that speaks to the heart of your culture?

🎵 Yemi Alade - Africa ft. Sauti Sol

📚 Tell us more about your community

Can you provide a brief overview of the community’s mission?

Our community mission is to build AI Together which entails bringing the Africa countries together with a common goal to future proof the upcoming generation with disruptive technologies and create job opportunities for the youth in Africa.

How and when was this community established?

The community was established in 2018 but within the years it grew to be more defined.

Which region(s) are you active in?

We are in 47 African countries

Who is this community for?

Any individual looking to get into the field of AI and Machine Learning. An individual looking to upskill and get opportunities in the data field to improve their lives and solve regions' most pressing problems.

When and where does the community connect?

We have over 200 ambassadors who ensure the community in the various countries often meet through physical events and we host monthly events to ensure the communities from all over the continent meet and acquire knowledge from each other and experts.

🤝 Can you share more about getting involved

How can new members join your community?

New members can join the Zindi community by signing up on zindi and also joining our WhatsApp Group community whatsapp where we communicate all events and opportunities.

What does the onboarding process look like for new members?

The process is really quick, just signing up to be a Zindian on Zindi page and joining the communication channel for updates and interaction with others. For joining in as an ambassador, one is required to fill in a formwhich will undergo the vetting process then accepted into the team.

What can members look forward to in 2024?

We are collaborating with big corporates such as Microsoft to launch important skill courses that will help the community gain knowledge on emerging topics such as Responsible AI,Ethics etc

Is there space and value for women in Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) from South Africa to join this community?

Yes we truly advocate for women in our community where 27% of our community are active women in data science taking over. We try to incorporate mentorship to help bring in more women into the data field.

🌍 Can you share some thoughts on DEI in your community

In what ways has your community created welcoming and inclusive spaces for underrepresented groups in the digital and computational space?

Local and Global Challenges: Zindi hosts competitions that address local African problems as well as global issues, making data science relevant and accessible to a broad audience. This approach helps to engage underrepresented groups by showing the practical impact of their contributions. Community Engagement: Through forums, mentorship programs, and webinars, Zindi fosters a supportive community. These platforms allow for knowledge sharing, collaboration, and encouragement among members from diverse backgrounds.

Could you share some of the key initiatives or programs the community has implemented to promote diversity and inclusion within the field?

Umoja Hack Africa: An annual hackathon that brings together students across Africa to solve real-world problems. This initiative not only showcases the talent across the continent but also encourages more young people to consider careers in data science.

Zindi Ambassador Program: Ambassadors from various countries work to grow the Zindi community locally, organize meet-ups, and mentor newcomers. This grassroots approach ensures that the platform is accessible and welcoming to all.

Can you share any of the success stories or milestones the community has achieved in terms of DEI?

WRapid Community Growth: One of Zindi’s significant achievements is its rapid growth, amassing 70 thousand data scientists across Africa and beyond. This demonstrates the platform’s success in creating a space where diverse individuals feel valued and can contribute meaningfully.

Real-World Impact: Zindi competitions have led to tangible solutions for health care, agriculture, transportation, and more. These successes highlight how inclusive digital spaces can drive positive change in society.

What advice would you give to other communities wanting to create inclusive and welcoming spaces?

Focus on Relevance: Ensure that the challenges or projects your community undertakes are relevant to the lives and experiences of underrepresented groups. This relevance fosters engagement and a sense of belonging. Foster Mentorship and Collaboration: Establish mentorship programs and collaborative projects to support newcomers and facilitate knowledge exchange. This can help in building confidence and skills among underrepresented members. Promote Accessibility: Make learning resources, competitions, and events as accessible as possible. Consider language, internet connectivity, and other barriers that might prevent participation. Celebrate Diversity: Recognize and celebrate the achievements of members from diverse backgrounds. Highlighting success stories can inspire others and demonstrate the value of inclusivity.

🌟 Final words of encouragement

Why would you encourage people to join communities of practice?

Unlock Potential Through Collaboration: Communities of practice are incubators for innovation and creativity. By collaborating with others, you can unlock potential within yourself that you may not have realized existed. These communities provide a platform for sharing knowledge, challenging assumptions, and fostering creative solutions to complex problems.

Expand Your Horizons: Joining a community of practice exposes you to new ideas, perspectives, and cultures. This exposure can broaden your understanding of the world, enhance your empathy, and inspire you to think in ways you hadn’t before. It’s an opportunity to learn not just about your field of interest but also about people and their diverse experiences.

Build Meaningful Connections: Perhaps one of the most significant benefits is the chance to connect with like-minded individuals who share your passions and interests. These connections can lead to lifelong friendships, mentorships, and professional networks that support your growth and can open doors to new opportunities.

Contribute to Something Bigger: Communities of practice thrive on the contributions of their members. By joining, you’re not just benefiting from the community; you’re also giving back. Your unique insights, experiences, and skills can help others and contribute to the collective knowledge and success of the community.

Give a word of advice for individuals who are not yet involved in a community of practice.

Start Small: Don’t feel pressured to dive in headfirst. Begin by attending a few events or participating in online forums. This can help you get a feel for the community’s dynamics and find where you might fit best.

Be Open and Curious: Approach your community of practice with an open mind and a sense of curiosity. Be ready to learn, ask questions, and challenge your preconceptions. Growth often happens at the edge of our comfort zones.

Share Your Voice: Remember that your perspective is valuable. Even if you’re new or feel like an outsider, your experiences and insights can offer something unique to the community. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and contribute to discussions.

Seek Mentorship: Look for individuals within the community who can guide you, provide advice, and help you navigate your journey. Mentorship can be a powerful tool for personal and professional development.