Cannons Creek-born tech innovator Nu'uali'i Eteroa Lafaele.
Nu'uali'i Eteroa Lafaele has been named in Forbes’ latest 30 Under 30 Asia Pacific list - and she wants to see others follow in her footsteps.
Forbes has recognised Cannons Creek-born tech innovator Nu'uali'i Eteroa Lafaele and her organisation Digi Tautua in its latest selection of top young entrepreneurs across the Asia Pacific region.
The 27-year-old Lafaele created Digi Tautua in 2020 to alleviate the digital inequity facing Pacific communities during Covid-19, which included crowd-funding a laptop distribution scheme so students could continue their studies during lockdowns.
Since 2021, her Givealittle page for DigiTautua has raised $106,727, with one user commenting: “Love your work Ete. I was lucky enough to be supported on my journey into IT, and these rangatahi deserve the same opportunity - whether it be moving to IT or embarking on an entirely different career journey.”
Following Forbes’ announcement, Lafaele told Brian Sagala on Pacific Days that as a Sāmoan woman, her parents were an inspiration for her growing up and watching how hard they worked for their family set the standard that drives her today.
“Mum and Dad would leave home at five or four in the morning. Dad was a taxi driver and Mum was a chef at a cafe in Johnsonville.
"They think we're not watching but I was just there one night, I watched them pick up their lunch and just go, watching the tiredness of that really instilled in me that, hey, if I want my parents to have a good life, I need to really work as hard as they have."
She also credits her brothers for advocating for her to pursue a career in the tech industry.
“I think a lot of people don't know my older brothers were the reason why I was able to be here.
"I’m the only girl in the family, my role was to stay home and, you know, look after Mum and Dad. I was very blessed that my brothers were able to really talk to my parents and shift their mindsets.”
Since establishing Digi Tautua, Lafaele co-founded Fibre Fale, a tech organisation that is helping blaze a trail for Pacific youth to follow her into the tech industry.
Lafaele and Saphron Matamua and Julia Arnott-Neenee are building the first global tech platform for Pacific technology professionals and are also developing a suite of products and programes to help Pacific youth interested in an IT career.
Lafaele says their work is about turning Pacific people from “consumers to controllers” in tech.
They have raised more than one million dollars from the IT industry as well as from organisations such as the Spark Foundation and Foundation North to carry out this work. Lafaele says the support shows how the corporate sector is willing to generously get behind initiatives that make a real difference.
“It really paints that picture of, if you’re going to do something for our community you don’t need to suffer you know, you deserve to be compensated.
“We all left our tech roles to come in help and support, but also drive this change of giving equal opportunity to our Pasifika people in tech.”
She has this message for those wanting to follow in her into the industry.
“It looks pretty from the outside, but a lot of hard work happens at the back and I think the thing is, if you really want a place in tech, this place is for you, there’s a seat for you."