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For Chima Mmeje, It's important for Black and Brown freelancers to form communities

By Oluwatobi Afolabi | Nov 12, 2022

" I faced racism from prospects who laughed in my face when they heard my rates, asked why I charged the same prices as freelancers in developed countries, and treated me like shit because of the color of my skin," - Chima Mmeje


Chima Mmeje founded the Freelance Coalition For Developing Countries (FCDC), a freelancer coalition specially dedicated to supporting, mentoring and coaching people of colour in their careers. 

In Document Women's conversation with Ms Mmeje about the coalition, she explains why it’s important for people of colour who freelance to form communities.


Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Chima Mmeje and I am an SEO content strategist and content writer for SaaS (subscription as a service) and tech companies. I got into the industry in 2017 and started out as a copywriter working remotely with a UK content agency. I left in 2019 to start my freelance business and one year later, I niched down in SaaS content SEO.


We know you started FCDC after years of being a freelancer. Was there a defining moment that made you decide this was an important thing you had to create? 

The first year as a freelancer was challenging. I remember jumping on a call with my first US lead and at the end of the 30-minute conversation, he asked if I could speak English. It was a strange question given that we were having a conversation in English.

This was one example of racism I faced as a Black person working predominantly with white clients. I faced racism from prospects who laughed in my face when they heard my rates, asked why I charged the same prices as freelancers in developed countries, and treated me like shit because of the color of my skin.

Every Black and Brown skin freelancer from a developing country has a similar story but the defining moment I decided to take the FCDC more seriously was in March 2022.

We put out the word for mentorship and most of the people applying for tech SEO mentorship didn't know what it was. They assumed tech SEO meant writing technical content for the industry. It was an eye-opening moment when I realized that you can't have dreams for something if you don't even know it exists. So, we set out to create training suitable for people who had zero knowledge of the industry.


FCDC has a mentorship structure, right? How does that work?

One of the things that helped me scale quickly was mentorship. I've had mentors throughout my career who helped me upskill, introduced me to the right people, and helped me find gigs. They provided clarity in a world full of chaos.

I want every BIPOC freelancer in a developing country to enjoy the benefits of mentorship. They sign up on a list and we pair them with professionals in their industry who help them pick a niche, close the skill gap, and gain access to places they wouldn't have access to otherwise.


Why did you choose a mentorship-type structure instead of a course-based one?

We actually have a course-based structure for technical SEO. Students take courses, then go into an intensive three months training with a teacher using a virtual classroom format.

The mentorship structure is ideal for people who have the skills but need to skill up and find clarity in their careers. The course structure is suited to those just starting out in the industry.


Can you share some of the goals you had for the FCDC when you founded it?

The goals of the FCDC is simple: Provide free mentorship, training, and scholarships for Black and Brown-skinned people living in developing countries. We want to help our people upskill so they are better positioned to earn more money and find the right opportunities.


How’s it going so far?

Really great. We set a goal for 1,000 members in 2022 and we've already surpassed that goal right now.


That’s awesome! What does success look like for the FCDC, particularly for you, as the founder?

The biggest KPI I set for myself was to build a community where everyone benefits. We've achieved that goal by providing scholarships, subscriptions, training, and courses for over 800 members in the community.

I'm a big fan of continuous learning. Something I wanted to do was create a learning center where anyone can go and learn from scratch without paying thousands of dollars for courses. With the help of our volunteer teachers, we're building out the learning resource center with videos to help our community get the skills they need to target higher-paying gigs. I'm very proud of the work we've done at the coalition.


Any new and exciting plans for the near future?

We're going to expand to copywriting, content marketing, and strategy training in 2023, so that will be exciting because it's a massive need in our community. I also want to start a podcast that will reflect how we interact as a community. Hopefully, that happens in 2023. Finally, we'll be hosting in-person meetups in 2023 to build that community feeling that's just not possible online. These meetups will happen in countries where we have the most members.


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