Connecting Desis Everywhere

It seems that it is time to add another woman to my original list of ‘Desi Women Under 30′, and am honored to add my homegirl and fellow Bangladeshi-SoCal woman Sumaya Kazi (Thanks, Nirali!).

In its second annual search for the best young entrepreneurs, BusinessWeek.com selected Sumaya Kazi, a Bangladeshi American woman from California, as one of its “Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under 25″ for 2006. At 24, she is the youngest manager in her marketing department at Sun Microsystems and co-founder of online media publishing company The Cultural Connect.

Sumaya is one of two women in the Top 25, for the magazine’s US, Europe and Asia lists combined.

Readers are encouraged to vote for their top entrepreneur — the top five will be published in the business magazine’s print edition. You can read about Sumaya and vote for her at BusinessWeek.com. [nirali]

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p>The Cultural Connect, started last year as The Desi Connect, before they expanded to include other cultures. I’ve been following their movement since Sumaya first interviewed me for their inaugural issue of The Desi Connect last year. Since then it has grown tremendously with now over 30,000 subscribers and 30 staff members all under the age of 35.

Last summer, she realized [...] networking was a huge and untapped resource that could help solve two problems: the fact that she and other young Americans of south Asian descent rarely read or hear about themselves in the media, and that these successful young minorities could give back to their communities, if only they knew whom to call.

That’s partly how Ms. Kazi and two others dreamed up The CulturalConnect, a free online magazine catering to people from four different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The magazine comes in four editions: “The DesiConnect” (“Desi” refers to a person with South Asian roots), “The MideastConnect,” “The LatinConnect,” and “The AsiaConnect.” [cbs]

Being nominated for a the Top 25 under 25 for BusinessWeek.com is a big achievement. Other desis have made it to this year’s nomination as well: Adnan Aziz (licking paper for flavor), Karen Goel and Avichal Garg (online SAT prep course), and Sudhin Shahani (digital media company). I may be a little biased due to my love for all things with desi in the title, as well as in my favoring young desi female breaking “ism” barriers, but my vote goes to Sumaya. Top five make it to the print edition and voting will only be open for a couple of weeks — go place your vote today!

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About Taz

Taz is an activist, organizer and writer based in California. She is the founder of South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY), curates MutinousMindState.tumblr.com and blogs at TazzyStar.blogspot.com. Follow her at twitter.com/tazzystar

27 thoughts on “Connecting Desis Everywhere

  1. thanks for this post! that is a fantastic accomplishment for her and the others who are featured.. although must vote for karan goel (a personal friend of mine ;) )

  2. nirali magazine … the top right hand corner of their home page says “Advertise … Reach Affluent South Asian …”. seems “in-the-face-ish”, a giveaway of the i-wannabe-desi-vogue aspirations of the folks over at Nirali.

    i would have preferred a friendlier, more down to earth phrase like “reach discerning south asian ..”.

    i stumbled on mybindi.com while looking for some bhangra acts in Canada … the site is somehow so much more friendlier and warm. and then sulekha.com.

    when was it ordained that you shouldn’t be funny or warm if you want to be hip. why does hip so often have to be cold, pretentious and dry? ‘exclusive’ sucks.

  3. nirali magazine … the top right hand corner of their home page says “Advertise … Reach Affluent South Asian …”. seems “in-the-face-ish”, a giveaway of the i-wannabe-desi-vogue aspirations of the folks over at Nirali.

    I wanna be desi Vogue?! Come on, whaddup, you’re begging me for a response. I think our content, dating back to 2004, speaks for itself. As for the ad link, it’s just that. An advertisement to attract advertisers–not sure how that makes us a “Vogue wannabe.” Vogue does its thing well, and while we may feature desi designers, the purview of our content extends far beyond that. Affluent? Depends on how you define it. For better or for worse, our readers do seem fall in that category. Still, we’ll rotate a “discerning readers” ad just for you.

    But before this thread gets hijacked, back to Sumaya. She’s a smart woman, and we’re featuring her in our next issue (out a week from today).

  4. TazPac,

    Why did you post her picture, do you want this to happen to her? Hmm? Anyway, I see a future 4th person voted off on the apprentice here.

  5. Is it me or do all these South Asian publications cater to the same stories and people after awhile! I have read about Salaam Theater for 2 years, Funkadesi is just about every blog, and probably the same entrepreneurs in similar mags. Nirali is great online, but the stories all seem to center around the same desi movers and shakers.

  6. hey saira,

    you bring up an important observation – i’d likee to say in defense though that The DesiConnect and The CulturalConnect has over 330 interviews of young movers and shakers in both the for profit and not for profit world. Of course some of the same ones will appear across mags – but that’s just because they continue to do new and innovative things and wow us. But I think more importantly to note is that each type of Media, like Nirali, provides a different type of content absorption since the mission of each mag is different. Our readers are all different too – we may share a commonpatch of them – like yourself!

  7. I don’t mean to be rude or crass. Just speak what’s on my mind.

    I think nirali.com has got its personality mixed up. I am sure you’re aware every brand can seem to have a personality – human qualities that can make it utterly lovable. Your branding is confusing. (Your content is good. I never said it’s not.)

    Claiming that you have access to the affluent, makes you sound irreverent. Irreverent is not bad if you can pull it off. But I don’t think the rest of your site is irreverent at all. I think you’re mostly aiming for classy. What blue-blooded classy website would openly admit its exclusiveness?

    If you want to be irreverent, paint your site red, give it bolder and more edgy pictures and throw in oodles of sexiness and improve the layout. If you want to be classy, don’t go proclaiming your exlusiveness. If you want to be chic, tongue in cheek, you need naughtier pictures and some videos (everyone’s doing it now).

    And if you just want to be warm, friendly and likeable, just visit mybindi.com. They’re a perfect Branding 101 case study. Love those folks.

    Still prefer irreverent? Well, vogue.com is always there to lead the way.

    (Back to the main thread now).

  8. congrats to those featured on the top 25 list. sounds like they’re doing some fairly cool things.

    i just want to know how sites like mybindi.com or whatever stay afloat…

    are there that many people into these sites? seems like such a small niche market.

    maybe i just dont get the “new media”.

  9. I agree with whaddup in that the market needs to be defined more so. Sumaya has an excellent point in that reporting on new news is key and everyone will have a different vantage point for appreciating the great talents out there. I love nirali for my quick net fix on fashion and desi style, but still revert to Anokhi Magazine to enjoy a magazine feel by tearing out great outfits or reading about Shah Rukh Khan in Hollywood (not about Don for once!). No criticism here, it’s just I’d love to see a desi Vogue sooner than later but one that can I read while louning with a Cosmo.

  10. From y’day’s G&M – hijab chic hits the stands in toronto. This isnt your average muslim magazine.

    A new Canadian lifestyle magazine has just hit the newsstands. But instead of thigh-high fashions and tips on how to whip up the season’s hottest drink, there are images of head scarves and clavicle-covering tops and a “Ramadan Rescue Recipe” for dates stuffed with almonds. Aver, which launched in Toronto this month, bills itself as the first “cross-Canada Muslim youth magazine.” And Seventeen it isn’t. The premiere issue features a cover shot of a woman in a hijab in a pose of earnest contemplation. Inside are such articles that question conservative views on music and lip gloss and examine human rights and Islam. In between are practical tips on saving the planet and a miscellany of opinions delving into the thorny issue of Muslim style — to veil or not to veil?
  11. it’s just I’d love to see a desi Vogue sooner than later but one that can I read while louning with a Cosmo.

    There’s a magazine in the UK called Asian Woman or Asiana or something. Vogue-like in that it has 5 bajillion pages of ads. Why I know this I know not.

  12. Why did you post her picture, do you want this to happen to her?

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! that is just sick.

  13. mr. hairy_d:

    guide (my fave movie of dev anands), rohinton mistry (one of my most fave authors), and mangoosteens? i might just need to move to the great white north ;) … enjoy if you go..

    vote for the top 25 under 25…

    how did this post get turned into ‘criticize blog mags, magazines, and bindi’s?’…

  14. guide (my fave movie of dev anands), rohinton mistry (one of my most fave authors), and mangoosteens? i might just need to move to the great white north ;) … enjoy if you go..

    will do c-p, and i love guides songs myself. they just put it up in the middle of the week otherwise it’d be a no-brainer. anyhow – isabel bader has fabulous acoustics – if you decide to do a quick hop, let me know – i’ll be there for shure.

  15. very tempting but will be in the city of brotherly love seeing mi hermano and friends at that time..

    ‘tere mere sapne..’ one of the best SONGS ever… used it in my parents anniversary cd…

    enjoy the gathering.. why oh why do they put it on a tuesday? ugh… i guess mistry was busy otherwise ;) .

  16. Sumaya,

    Impressive. Most impressive, I saw the businessweek article, and checked out your schedule, That’s totally crazy. but something befuddles me, where do you find time to shop for that trendy outfit, get your eyebrows done and get those auburn highlights?

  17. haha…espresa is right – you can always find time for eyebrows! but it helps when your roommate can thread brows as good as she does! if in fact you do think i have some sort of fashion sense, i’ll give all the credit to my roommates. I live with three other girls and they’re all fashionistas – I dont think they’d allow me to buy something ugly ;) also…you just saw my schedule for the work week. there are weekends! i do enjoy those oh so very much.

  18. a girl *always* makes time for eyebrows

    this is very true.

    and loved this:

    its part of our magic. don’t try to understand ;-)

    because i had this exact convo with guys who just didn’t ‘get it’ :)

    and with being halloween…the the magic be!

  19. 21 · sumaya on October 31, 2006 12:54 AM

    Anybody featured on SM, like Sumaya or RajBhakta etc, gains celebrity status in my mind… so, I think it’s awesome that they read and post replies to comments here.

  20. Impressive. Most impressive, I saw the businessweek article, and checked out your schedule, That’s totally crazy. but something befuddles me, where do you find time to shop for that trendy outfit, get your eyebrows done and get those auburn highlights?

    FukYoCouch, how’s the novel comin’ along…hope you at least have some 55′s stuffed under your sleeve that you can bestow on the literary world…

    and yeah it’s been said before but that’s part of the magic, especially the eyebrows, I think for desi girls the eyebrows are the key…love that colour on Ms S if she’s still around on the thread…

    Congratulations :)

  21. Thanks for everyone’s kind words and Congratulations! I wish BusinessWeek could have fit and included the 30 people on my staff in that pic! they’re all super young and really the main reason for our success.

    If you haven’t voted yet (as per the post above), please do! We’d love your support =)

  22. I’ve been reduced to licking paper for flavor?! haha, please check out our website for more information…or just lick the upper left hand corner of the screen. jk.