This is part of our year long celebration of Global Wire Associates’ 10th Anniversary
In the beginning, the idea for Global Wire Associates started out as a simple blog called Global Wire. The blog was originally not intended to be a business idea. It just kind of happened.
“Blogging was a new thing back in ‘05, and I noticed that there were not many bloggers of color writing about technology, politics and social justice,” says Global Wire Associates founder Talia Whyte. “I was fearful at first about blogging because I didn’t think anyone would be interested in what I had to say.”
But she was wrong. After a few months of blogging, she started getting a small following of readers, which included Marjane Nakello, who was then an IT health management consultant based in Kenya. Nakello was also interested in starting her own blog on how technology access has changed public health outcomes in East Africa. She contacted Whyte about getting blogging tips.
“I told Talia that she could make a business out of helping others to start blogging because of her journalism background,” said Nakello. “There are many people around the world at the time who had not yet realized the potential blogging can have in supporting social movements. This was long before the Arab Spring and the Black Lives Matter movements that we started to think about these things.”
After a few months of talking to each other on the phone, Whyte and Nakello had their first in-person meeting in Boston in mid 2005 to discuss creating a sustainable business model out of the Global Wire blog. With Nakello’s business and ICT knowledge and Whyte’s journalism and project management acumen, they had the perfect match of skills to create Global Wire Associates. Their main goal was to provide tech training to underrepresented communities.
Their slogan became “Innovative Communication for Advancing Social Justice”
They decided to host digital literacy classes. With the help of a few mutual friends, many of these first classes took place in Boston, New York City, Nairobi and Johannesburg. The Boston and New York classes were originally focused on basic digital literacy issues like creating email accounts and using blogs to express themselves and were mainly taught to recent immigrants to the United States. The Nairobi and Johannesburg classes were taught to relocated refugees from Somalia and Zimbabwe, respectively.
Many of the American classes had a need for a Spanish translator, and that is when Maria Ferrara was hired. She was a professional Spanish and French translator for different government agencies in New York City at the time. Ferrara was also the one who suggested that Global Wire Associates needed to set up a research and development department.
“We encounter so many people from different walks of life, so we should be recording their technology habits and studying how to make technology work better for them,” Ferrara said.
As interest in our classes grew, Global Wire Associates needed to organize more structured course materials and stream line the blog. This is when we brought on Philip Lee, a former technology reporter from Hong Kong.
“Our classes had to meet the needs of our students who had different learning curves,” Lee said. “Some students were really good with computers, while others had never seen or touched a computer before coming to our classes.
Over the years, these classes have focused on a wide variety of issues, ranging from social media, e-waste recycling and mobile entrepreneurship.
Since 2005, Global Wire Associates has hosted over 300 classes in 43 countries with over 5,500 students in attendance to date.
Nice work for a simple blog!