Cliftonville resident Anisah Osman Britton has been made an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for services to diversity in the technology sector in the King’s New Year honours list .
The 29-year-old, who moved to the isle with her grandmother, parents and two sisters in December 2021, is the founder of 23 Code Street – an innovative coding school for women and non binary people that, for every paying student, teaches digital skills to a woman in the slums of India.
Anisah started 23 Code Street seven years ago this January, when she was aged just 23.
23 Code Street has partnered with NGOs to train disadvantaged and marginalised women in Street Mumbai.
The aim is to give women digital skills that put them in a position to be able to earn more and to build solutions to the problems they see on their doorstep.
Anisah said: “For every person trained in the UK, we train a girl in the slums in digital skills.
“When the pandemic happened we went from in-person courses to moving entirely remote but it has been a good experience.”
Anisah said she was prompted to set up the school after working in tech revealed the lack of women in the industry.
She said: “When I was 19 I had my own company and then I worked at an accelerator in the city. I was always working with men so this (23 Code Street) was a way of changing what the industry looked like.”
Anisah was born in London and then the family moved to Spain when she was three. At the age of 11 there was a move to India before returning to the UK where Anisah sat her GCSEs and International Baccalaureate.
However, she then declined to take the university route and instead interned in businesses around the world before returning and setting up PocketMUni.com which matched students with people who needed odd jobs carried out.
This was the start of Anisah’s coding journey. She then worked for company The Bakery, learning about startups and web development.
This ignited a passion to see better representation in the tech industry and led to 23 Code Street, which had backing from The Bakery founder Tom Salmon.
Anisah said: “I see this as a creative career rather than a scientific one. People make it sound really complicated and mathematical, saying girls don’t do mathematics and computer science.
“It’s how we change that. The starting point is giving people access. It leads to opportunities to create solutions to problems, an ability to sit at the board table and say ‘this could be solved in this way’.’
The 12 week course aims to give people the skills to then carry on with their learning whether they want to go into web development or another route entirely.
In India the courses start with basic digital skills for girls to give them access to data entry jobs.
Anisah, who also co-writes Startup Life for Sifted – a European tech news company backed by the Financial Times – said of the MBE: “Receiving the honour has given me a moment to reflect and celebrate all of the work I’ve done over the last decade.
“It’s a lovely surprise. I hope that me receiving this recognition will highlight how important it is that our tech workforce reflects the diverse society we live in so that we have innovation that serves everyone.”
Anisah says the family move to Thanet was prompted by the wish to live by the sea once more.
She said: “Who wants to live in the city when you can live by the beach. I grew up by the sea in Spain and India and also love the scene in Margate, I like the energy which reminds me of how London was in 2012 (hosting the Olympics). I love Cliftonville and all the stuff opening up around Northdown Road, cafes, galleries, vintage stores, and Walpole Bay is my go to spot. I like that the immigrant community still exists whilst having people who are generating new spaces.”
The New Year Honours List 2023 marks the incredible public service of individuals from across the UK.
Of the 1,107 people on the main list who receive an award 955 candidates have been selected at BEM, MBE and OBE level: with 305 at BEM, 431 at MBE and 219 at OBE.
Some 673 (60%) of the recipients are people who are recognised primarily for outstanding work in their communities either in a voluntary or charitable capacity;