I asked if you wanted to know more about my journey with supporting black-owned businesses, why I started, what my experience has been like and the good, the bad and the ugly. As well as sharing my own journey I wanted to look into the increase of black-owned businesses and the increase of support surrounding them.
Where It All Started
I’m pretty sure my journey started when my parents joined the Nation of Islam and we were immersed in a pro-black environment that heavily focused on supporting the black community. I grew up around black people who knew where to shop for what they needed, whilst ensuring the black pound stayed within the community for longer.
It started with my upbringing and was reignited by the people I followed on social media. I was watching Curlture and Ukafrolista speak about black-owned businesses and I was able to see what was available to see, what our community was doing and how I can contribute to it all.
What Kept Me Going?
Years on and I am always looking for more black-owned businesses to support whilst creating content around my findings.
The biggest barrier I think the black community has when it comes to supporting black business owners is the visibility. As much as in our own spaces we can feel like we are the majority, in reality, the percentage of black people within the UK is small. This means we need to be vocal and forthright when it comes to the activities of the community.
When I started looking into the experiences of black business owners I became even more motivated to support black-owned businesses. When you hear about the lack of funding from banks because people still have the misconception that black people do not shop online, or that we don’t support our own community and that we aren’t reliable people to loan money to. You start to think about how important it is to support the businesses already in the Industry because you have an idea of what it is they have had to endure in order to stay in business.
Living in a world that isn’t always, equal and fair means it can be quite difficult for me to spend money and to support brands and companies that don’t align with my own values. The more I learn about black history and black British history the more I wanted to do to keep the money within our community for longer. I don’t buy black all of the time, however where I can I do.
Why Are More People Buying Black?
Thanks to social media we now have better access to black-owned businesses. A Shift in spending habits due to conversations around sustainability and the importance of representation has definitely had an impact on why more black people are looking to spend within the community. This support for black-owned businesses can also be found within the influencer industry as well, which has been an amazing tool for black-owned businesses to utilise.
Unfortunately, social media has also meant that we have had to witness brands and companies that do not meet our demands. This means we are now looking at the brands and companies that meet our standards when it comes to representation, inclusion and relatable marketing.
This change in conscious buying has made it that little bit easier for independent black-owned businesses to thrive. With the increase of those who are looking for cruelty-free and environmentally friendly products and services, it puts independent black-owned businesses at an advantage. Especially black women, as we are the largest group of people to start up our own businesses.
“Recent UK government figures show that black women have the highest level of business ownership in London with 29% owning businesses, compared to 21% of whites and 15% of Asians.” –Britain: The Rise And Rise Of Black Business – Nairaland
Financial gain on a community level allows us to make changes to spaces that aren’t always inclusive and it allows for more opportunities to be created. Which is something black people are not always given in mainstream or white-dominated spaces.
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
I was very much aware of the negative experiences that people have had supporting black-owned businesses and their complaints about poor customer service and lack of professionalism.
However, for me, I was open-minded and I was trusting of those that have recommended brands and businesses on their platforms. Regardless of who’s running the business, we can all agree that a certain level of professionalism and customer service is expected.
I was not naive in thinking that black-owned businesses would just run the same way that other non-black businesses would. It wouldn’t be fair to compare the businesses that have been well established, generously funded and openly supported in the media to the businesses that may have been self-funded and started in their homes, with the backing of friends and family.
Overall my experience with supporting black-owned businesses has been a positive one. I like to know where my money is going and how it makes a difference for future generations. I have enjoyed supporting black businesses, and meeting the skilled and talented people behind those businesses.