The lives of black men in the UK have long been adversely affected by negative public perceptions. We are often turned away from jobs because we are not the “right fit”. While on the streets, we are regularly treated by police as dangerous suspects.
In a 2011 study, Media Representations & Impact on the Lives of Black Men and Boys, conducted by The Opportunity Agenda, negative mass media portrayals were strongly linked with lower life expectations among black men. These portrayals, constantly reinforced in print media, on television, the internet, fiction shows, print advertising and video games, shape public views of and attitudes toward men of colour. They not only help create barriers to advancement within our society but also “make these positions seem natural and inevitable”
Black male achievement is seldom celebrated in the UK mainstream media. Rather than waiting for the mainstream media to change, we want to use our own framework to do this. It’s consistent with out desire at The Common Sense Network ‘to discover stories from across the political spectrum, local stories, stories that hold power to account, that uncover wrongdoing, that empower the forgotten and the unheard.’
In a wide range of ways, the overall presentation of black males in the media is distorted, exaggerating some dimensions while omitting others. The truth is there are many Black men working hard to do a lot of with a little. Changing the world and playing on their own court. Through this series, we want to introduce you to 10.
Chapter 6: Victor Olawuni
Close friends describe me as
A big thinker and hard worker, with a soft spot for people
Only I know that I am…
I am a visionary with a knack for disruptive tech solutions
How did this all begin?
During my time at university, as a lot of people do, I repetitively posed the question to myself, “what do I want to do with my life?”. I had this feeling of ‘being boxed up into a system’ that would eventually spit me out into the professional/corporate space. I knew there had to be more to my career; I wanted to do more and be more. As a Christian who grew up in a Missionary family, I had been exposed to many Churches who were different in culture, tradition or belief. University allowed me to explore and understand drivers behind Church differences and similarities.
As a believer in Unity, I focused on the similarities and found pain points within the Church that limited their ability to connect, grow and impact the world; setting me up with ideas to meet needs through the application of modern and next-gen solutions.
Since finishing University, I’ve spoken to over 50 Church leaders and Christian tech entrepreneurs across the world which helped me validate, try and test ideas with Churches across the UK
How have things been since you started?
On a personal note, trying to balance finding my foot in the professional workplace and make progress on building a mobile application for Churches has been difficult. But it has given me the opportunity to transfer skills and knowledge between both parts of my life. I’ve been fortunate to gain support from local Churches, friends and mentors
What do you hope to achieve with this project?
My ambition for ChurchGO is to digitally future-proof the global Church. And through that, helping Churches achieve their collective ambition; to display God’s love to everyone by teaming up together, spreading the gospel and meeting people’s needs.
What’s surprised you so far about your personal journey?
Surprisingly, so far I’ve personally been able to grow in self-confidence. As an introvert, I tend to keep thoughts and ideas to myself, so gaining the courage to speak them out has benefited me greatly in both my professional and entrepreneurial journey. I am now a big believer in networking. Meeting that one person or having that 5-minute conversation can change the course of your thinking, actions or decision, and/or ultimately results – for the better.
What are some of the ways you’ve made an impact thus far?
I’ve managed to bring to light the issues that need addressing in line with Church ambitions; such as slow adaptation to technology (in-house or externally). COVID19 has given rise to the demand for tech such as; filming gear, social media or other applications to help connect Church members and reach further with a digital footprint. I’ve been able to connect with and support Churches on their digital transformation through consultation but more significantly, by building an app in 3-months with over 6,000 church profiles (that’s over 40k worth of data points). This means people can easily find and connect with Churches through online services.
What have you found most personally challenging about leading on this project?
Personally, I found it challenging to be patient when learning to and building out the first MVP (Minimum Viable Product) mobile-app because it meant that I had to push beyond my natural abilities and move from a high-level, visionary thinker to a more technical and practical one.
What does success look like to you?
Success to me is being able to help others through my faith, experiences, connections, technical abilities and anything else God has planned for me.
How can people get involved?
People can reach out to their local churches to be a part of ChurchGo. They can also follow ChurchGo on socials to see how we develop and grow, churchgo or churchgouk