Building a Financially Self-Sustaining Community of Muslamic Makers

In addition to practicing community management as a profession, many of the listeners, guests, and even members of the team behind Community Signal, manage communities part-time. These might be communities that align with our personal passions or hobbies or communities that exist specifically to help ourselves and others grow. That is exactly the mission of Muslamic Makers. Co-founded by Arfah Farooq, who joins us for this episode, Muslamic Makers is a community of Muslim changemakers who work in the tech industry.

This April marks the fifth birthday of Muslamic Makers and Arfah discusses how the community has grown during that time and how she sees it growing into the future. Muslamic Makers takes pride in offering thoughtful programming that is largely free to its community, and Arfah shares how she and her team are thoughtfully working to keep it that way. Tech companies want access to diverse communities when it comes to hiring and in exchange for sponsorship opportunities, the Muslamic Makers community offers them just that. Arfah also discusses the importance of documenting the processes that keep the community running, so that the community can continue running, whether she’s managing the day-to-day or not. It’s always refreshing to hear that the practices that keep our “professional” communities healthy and well-managed are the same practices that we should try applying to our own personal communities, too.

Arfah and Patrick also discuss:

  • Keeping a community independent, self-sustaining, and affordable to its members
  • Adapting and enforcing your community’s Code of Conduct as you grow
  • How the pandemic has helped the Muslamic Makers community grow beyond its roots in London

This episode is the first that we’ve released since the devastating shooting that left eight people in Atlanta dead, including six Asian women. Their names were Daoyou Feng, Hyun Jung Grant, Soon Chung Park, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, and Xiaojie Tan. The other two people who were killed were Delaina Ashley Yaun and Paul Andre Michels. One man, Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, was seriously injured. As a team, we’ve reflected on how our work in communities matters when it comes to stopping hate. As Patrick says in this episode, “when we educate ourselves about what anti-Asian hatred looks like and we take action against it, we are part of the solution.”

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Big Quotes

Growing Muslamic Makers into a self-sustaining community: “Where I think self-sustainability [for Muslamic Makers] comes from is sponsorships with tech companies because tech companies want access to diverse talent. They want to advertise to a diverse pool.” –@Arf_22

Our communities are bigger than our individual selves: “[When asking for money to sustain a community], speak from the heart, and let people know your intentions are right and you are just thinking about this community existing beyond yourself. [Muslamic Makers] is part of my legacy, but at the same time, especially in Islam as well, it’s the whole thing of, if I die tomorrow, this thing is going to carry on. It’s going to keep bringing goodness in the world.” –@Arf_22

How the pandemic helped the Muslamic Makers community grow beyond London: “Because we the founders were in London … [Muslamic Makers was] very London-centric. … The beauty of actually being forced online [because of the pandemic], in a sense, has meant that all our events are online, which has meant that we’ve had people dialing in from the other side of the world. That global community has definitely grown a lot.” –@Arf_22

About Arfah Farooq

Arfah Farooq is a lifelong community builder, from shaping the regeneration of East London after the 2012 Olympics to building resilience in young people as a youth trustee for a charity.

She accidentally co-founded a startup called Discoverables after an initial Design Council grant in 2012. This catapulted her into technology, which led her to co-found Muslamic Makers, a community for Muslims who upscale and pioneer tech in 2016. Arfah is a 2017 fellow of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and has been awarded a prestigious fellowship exploring Muslim women in technology in the USA, UAE, and Pakistan, where she vlogged her travels and brought back her expertise to help businesses.

For her day job, Arfah works in government where she managed an internal community of 1,500-plus product and delivery managers across the UK government and now leads the No.10 Innovation Fellowship program. She is also an Angel investor in startups as part of the Aida Ventures Angels program to invest in underrepresented talent.

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