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Dear my future sponsor,

I’m writing to ask you to match fund the fees of my foundation coding course with 23 Code Street.

My startup, Hair Hookup, connects black stylists and customers (think ‘Treatwell’ but for afro-textured hair). My cofounder has amicably left the business – he worked full time to provide us with capital which had the adverse effect of pulling him in too many directions. His departure means that I don’t have capital to invest into our tech development as planned.

My 1-year journey in the startup world has had the overarching theme of me occupying spaces that have historically pushed people like me – a woman, black, African, queer – to the fringes and therefore, I internalised as not being made for me.

Last year, I was granted a graduate entrepreneurship visa to return to the UK upon graduating to start my business: 5000 students are eligible but the visa is only granted to twenty. The process is gruelling and coming from a film background, this time last year I had no idea how to run a startup (whose ‘seeds’ and what ‘angels’?) but I did know how to solve a problem. Round after round, I got through Dragon’s Den style interviews and refused to believe my luck until my feet were solidly outside of Heathrow terminal 5. I soon learned that running my startup was harder than writing and talking about it, especially without a technological background.

At the core of Hair Hookup, my goal is to empower the small business owner. It’s aim is to provide a platform that helps stylists improve the ways they advertise their services and provide a booking software to help save time and money. Hairdressing is a pillar of the black diaspora, its helped aunties keep the lights on and put their children through school, and young women pay their way through university or bypass it altogether and start successful salons.

My business has two parts: community and tech. I’ve got the former covered, the latter, not so much. I’ve invested much time and money in outsourcing with little return, but I also knew no alternative.

I never fathomed someone like me could code because while the dominant narrative of code and tech is changing, its still very Zuckerbergy.

I listened to Anisah speak about 23 Code Street at a women in business event and signed up for the course a week later. She makes a deliberate effort to provide a space where people like me feel like tech is a space we can confidently occupy. Learning how to code will empower me to take control of the fundamentals of my business: at best, I’ll be able to build the platform and run it, and at it’s most basic, I’ll have the tech acumen to competently oversee those who do build my tech.

Anisah with WAH nails founder, Sharmadean Reid, at Future Girl Corps where we first met

Empowering black business owners to build businesses with more deliberate tools is an aspiration of mine that goes beyond the material of hair. It’s about helping people who look like me build things that last; businesses that sustain us, excite us and inspire next generations.

Learning to code is arguably the most crucial investment I need to make in myself: I can raise 50% of the fees myself and would be eternally grateful if you could match the other half and help me access the technological skills and confidence that is fundamental to my startup’s success.

My first day of class!

I’d love to express my gratitude to all who contribute: I’m happy to vlog, blog, speak at companies or engage in any other format about my experiences with 23 Code Street, coding, my startup journey or any of the other themes addressed in this letter.

If you’re able to assist in any way or want to get involved/in touch, reach me at mukundwa@hairhookup.co.uk.

Yours truly, gratefully and optimistically,

Mukundwa Katuliiba