GDI: Welcome to your first RealMe interview, Dayo! Let’s start by telling us about Africlick?
D: Africlick is where Africans click – we are a cultural dating app for ambitious professionals and creatives of African heritage, globally. In a market of inauthentic, affiliate African dating; Africlick’s matching algorithm uses unique cultural data like life goals, tribe and religion to be the best at helping Africans “click” and make meaningful connections.
GDI: Thanks Dayo. Great to have you here too, Courtney! I know we’ve worked closely with you here at GDI, but talk to us about Women In Dating?
C: Women In Dating is an organisation forging a path for greater equity in the online dating industry by providing an inclusive platform to share best practices related to women-centric issues, support through networking and coaching, as well as the opportunity to guide and shape the direction of the industry.
Women In Dating is a collaborative effort of both our council and contributor members, who are the heart and spirit of our community.
GDI: Thanks both! So Dayo, what was the inspiration behind creating Africlick?
D: I was inspired to create Africlick to offer Africans a safe and encouraging space for online dating. Although Africans represent 17% of the world’s population, we have at best been ignored and at worst discriminated against by mainstream dating apps. Personally, I have had numerous poor experiences on other apps where race was the key factor. Sadly, this was not unique to me, numerous studies have shown that black users are less likely to get matches and face racism, fetishisation and other difficulties on mainstream dating apps.
GDI: Were there any challenges that you faced in the development of the platform?
D: I wanted to create a dating app for Africans globally. However, Africa and the African diaspora has a vast diversity of ethnic groups, cultures and customs, it was challenging to design a product to cater to this diversity.
Also, sickle cell disease is the world’s most common hereditary blood disorder. Approximately 1 in 4 black people are healthy asymptomatic carriers of the Sickle Cell trait and this status is an essential consideration for safe family planning. I think it’s Africlick’s responsibility to help tackle a problem that primarily affects the African community. It was a challenge to sensitively approach this within the app design.
GDI: And Courtney, did you experience any challenges during the development of the Women In Dating board?
C: We were lucky the women we invited to join the council understood and aligned with our mission and goals. Since the creation of our organization, these women-led businesses helped us to build something innovative and unique, a true movement.
GDI: It’s great to see that you have such supportive and engaging women working with you! Dayo – could you tell us a bit about your previous experience – what were you doing previously before founding the app?
D: I have always worked in the technology industry. In fact, I started as an IT Management Consultant at the ‘Big 4’. Then, driven by the lack of diversity in London’s tech ecosystem, I joined the founding team of OneTech, which is London’s largest diversity in startups programme, backed by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation.
In 2019, I was named in the Financial Times Top 100 Most Influential Ethnic Minority Leaders in Tech and I was honoured to be included in the 2021 Women In Dating Powerbook, celebrating the 20 most inspirational and influential women in the dating industry.
GDI: Congratulations! Following this, what steps do you believe can be taken to ensure equal representation of women in this industry? How can we encourage and inspire younger women to embark on a career in the dating world?
D: The mainstream dating operators who employ large workforces should seek to embed diversity and inclusion into every aspect of the organisation, including their products, brand, team, processes and policy. Once a company is authentically diverse, it will naturally attract women to work there; Bumble is a great case study of being a great place to work for women.
GDI: Thanks, Dayo! It would be great to get your thoughts too, Courntey – what do you think?
C: I think we must consider female representation in the workforce and offer women and trans women the opportunity to participate in all roles, especially all aspects of creating online dating apps and communities. This includes senior leadership and women entering the workforce.
We owe it to our contemporaries and the generations to come that we make a difference with our time in the industry. I believe it begins with each of us being more aware and active in building this.
GDI: That’s great – and we totally agree. So both, which women in the dating industry inspire you, and why?
D: I am inspired by numerous women in the dating industry. Of particular note are Clémentine Lalande, Robyn Exton the CEO of HER, the world’s largest dating app for queer women and Olivia June, Founder of VINA which connects women for friendship. Both Robyn and Olivia have been pioneers and successfully created and scaled unique, safe, women-centred spaces.
C: There are so many. Being part of Women In Dating transformed my life and my appreciation for other women, their strength, and their passion. I am grateful for the women who offer their time and energy to this movement, and the betterment of others.
GDI: Some great names there! Moving onto the challenges of the industry, what are the main hurdles that dating brands are currently facing when it comes to equality and diversity?
D: Larger mainstream apps are challenged to focus on the numerous intersectional aspects of diversity – e.g. neurodiversity, race and gender. However, this must be viewed within the context that bias is also a wider societal problem in real life, arguably it is natural that dating apps will reflect and possibly amplify the bias that exists in society today. This is where niche dating apps like HER for queer women, MuzMatch for Muslims and Africlick for Africans exist to provide safe spaces for diverse daters.
GDI: So, how can dating platforms improve the safety and security rights of their users when it comes to online dating?
D: Most dating platforms have heavily invested in safety and have deployed a variety of initiatives into their infrastructure including social verification, user-driven reporting, requiring users to sign up to a clear, plain-language code of conduct and enforcing it.
Dating platforms can continue to improve on safety by joining organisations such as the think tank Oasis Consortium, which exist to set out best-in-class standards to address safety and privacy in Web3. Additionally, governments must legislate to criminalise the most extreme forms of trolling and online harassment, much like the laws that dating-app leader Bumble advocates for to criminalise the sending of unsolicited nudity.
GDI: Courtney, what do you think? How do you suggest that the industry boosts safety and security for their users?
C: We are nothing without the trust of our users, so ensuring there is a dedicated team working with technology partners supporting greater practices in user safety and protection. This may include vetting users, moderation tools, background checks, and personal safety apps. There is more technology available than ever before, and it is important to look at these resources when building safer environments.
GDI: Thanks, Courtney. To finalise today’s discussion, Dayo, what is your end goal for Africlick? Where do you see yourself and the app in the next few years?
D: My ambition is for Africlick to scale to serve and connect the global community of 1.4 billion Africans. Whether they live in London, China, Brazil or Houston, Africlick will be the first choice to help Africans date and connect to people who share their culture.
Click here to visit the Women in Dating or Africlick website. To learn more about Women In Dating, please follow them on LinkedIn.