We’re supporting Black-owned businesses all year round!
The last few years have been a racial reckoning of sorts and we, the delegation of Black people, have begun to take inventory of all the ways we need to reclaim our power as a result. Economic empowerment is one of the first steps in our collective fight for true equality, which is why we make it our business to support the global efforts to galvanize us around buying Black as much as possible.
In 2019, we profiled the efforts of SHOPPE BLACK, a one-stop directory for all things Black-owned across the globe and the brainchild of Philadelphia couple Shantrelle P. Lewis and husband Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson. From Black-owned nail salons to farms and gardens, they had already been doing the work of organizing massive lists of Black-owned businesses. Their next goal was to embark on the creation of a global directory, something Lewis said was necessary.
“We all know the importance and value of SHOPPING BLACK. We know the statistics of the 1.2 trillion buying power of Black people in the U.S. We also know of the socio-economic devastation that happened to the Black community post-integration. What we're working on solving for is how to not only create and access wealth that can be passed down generationally but how to design for a future that allows us to thrive as a people globally,” said Lewis.
That next year, in June of 2020, we reported on We Buy Black’s rollout of new distribution operations. As the largest online marketplace for Black-owned businesses, the new product fulfillment component would allow Black entrepreneurs to get their products directly to consumers without having to pitch to retailers for placement in stores. Not only did We Buy Black see the direct-to-consumer pipeline as the next logical step in their evolution of business, but also as the next step for true economic independence for the Black community.
“To date, the ‘holy grail’ for Black entrepreneurs has been getting their products on the shelves of a major retailer or featured on Amazon. In either scenario, the competition is fierce and there simply isn’t room for everyone at the table. Further, big box stores and Amazon, frankly, end up taking most of the money. Without distribution, it’s simply not possible to grow and scale a business. Without the ownership of distribution channels, Black entrepreneurs are left to the whimsical mercy of others,” the company explained.
As a part of their new rollout, the platform was offering consumers the option to pick from one of three “Big Black Bag” options, priced at $25, $50, and $100. The bags would each contain a variety of handpicked Black-owned products, each purchase coming with a complimentary We Buy Black t-shirt.
“We Buy Black is primed to give Black entrepreneurs a much-needed boost and pipeline, directly to consumers. Distribution changes everything and shifts control back to our community. While many are calling for major retailers to ‘give’ shelf space to Black-owned businesses, controlling distribution is tantamount to building our own shelf, kitchen, and dining room. When others control the distribution, you have to depend on their favor. When you control the distribution, however, you can’t be shut down or shut out,” We Buy Black said via statement.
Later that year, the My Black Receipt movement hit its goal of tracking more than $5 million spent supporting Black-owned businesses in just 16 days. The initiative was launched by Kezia M. Williams, CEO of The Black upStart along with Torrence Reed, CEO of Zoom Technologies, Darryl Perkins, co-founder of Broccoli City, Talib Graves Manns, CEO of Knox Street Studios, and 19 Keys, CEO of Goldewater. The goal was to encourage consumers to shop Black by encouraging them to upload receipts of their Black-owned purchases.
The group’s mission was to actually “quantify how Black consumers and allies buy from Black-owned businesses as a collective...hold consumers who pledge to buy Black accountable and publicly demonstrate the collective power of buying Black.”
According to the site, more than 90% of reported Black-owned businesses did not receive the COVID assistance Payment Protection Program loans promised by the government. At the time, nearly 41% of those same businesses were slated for permanent closure. Through the My Black Receipt initiative, organizers hoped to galvanize grassroots support for Black-owned companies in a way that the government could not. The challenge lasted from Juneteenth to July 6th and more than 18,000 consumers participated.
“Thanks to all of you for submitting your receipts...The first ever buy Black movement quantified, and the first digital Black Wall Street built with actual dollars spent with Black businesses you chose in physical and digital neighborhoods across the world! You built this foundation. And our foundation is strong because of you!,” Williams wrote via social media.
Now we want to hip you all to another platform dedicated to supporting our efforts to Buy Black. And this go round, we’re just in time for the holidays. Here’s why the Miiriya app is the only app you'll need this Black Friday and beyond:
The app was launched in 2020 and has more than 100,000 downloads to date. According to the description in the Google Play store (also available in the App Store for iPhones), the word Miiriya is a word from the African language of Bambara/Dioula. The word means "thoughts" and "ideas." In specific cases, it can also mean "philosophers" or "thinkers."
"Miiriya, a place to shop Black-owned businesses, gathers people who believe in ideas, change, and come together as creatives and thinkers to make those ideas come true. It’s a place that aims to provide you with whatever comes to mind,” the description continues.
Unlike most apps, Miiriya has a wide array of selections, leaving many people to choose it over their other go-to shopping apps. A simple search tool allows you the freedom to look for everything from beauty products to interior decor and art. It really is a comprehensive platform that has a little bit of everything, and it’s pretty simple to navigate. Because of this, people are calling it the "Black Amazon."
It currently has a 4.6 rating on the Google app store and despite the occasional bug, users report it’s quite simple and effective to use.
“This app has really helped me move away from Amazon. Between this and Etsy, I can get pretty much anything from small independent creators without supporting a monopoly. There's a few bugs to be worked out yet, and the selection is really limited in some places, but that'll change as more people start using the platform. Overall it's a great experience,” one user reported.
“I can't wait to get my next paycheck so that I can start buying things from this app! It's easy to use and didn't take me long to get the hang of it,” another added.
As you prepare for Black Friday and any other online shopping, be sure to download Miiriya to make sure you’re putting your money where your mouth is. Buying Black isn’t just a catchphrase, it’s a lifestyle, and one we want to make sure you’re committed to.
For more information visit www.miiriya.com.
Here’s why you should be supporting the Miiriya App Black Friday and beyond. Photo Courtesy of miiriya.com.