The Business of ‘Buying Black’

#Supportblackowned #buyblack #blackbritishbusiness

The cause for ‘buying black’ has once again gained momentum in recent years. I say once again as this is a cause that is nothing new. Advocates for supporting black-owned businesses and black entrepreneurs have been vocal since the civil rights movement.  In this new age of social media though, as consumers, we are more connected to the brands we consume than ever before and we are increasingly more savvy about the businesses we choose to give our hard-earned coins to. On the other side, social media has also changed the way we consume information making it unfiltered and more direct. This has ushered in a new age of enlightenment (“wokeness”) about social and political issues on a global scale. As a result, the power is now in the hands of the consumer who is un-phased by traditional forms of advertisement, but who asks questions like who owns my favourite brands? What are they like and what do they believe in? Do they care about me?

This is why when even the largest most global brands such as Dove and L’Oreal fail to demonstrate an awareness of their black/minority consumers the power of social media is such that it has the ability to damage brand image. These episodes of outrage have also played a part in triggering conversations about having, owning and investing in our ‘own’.

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The Facts

So what is the big deal? Given that we do not live in a world of overt racial segregation it is quite easy to dismiss such causes to shop black as radical, ‘bandwagonist’ or simply unnecessary.  I also think discussions about black businesses have the tendency to get quite emotive which is understandable. Therefore I believe it is important to get down to the facts and the facts are this: we do not own the businesses we consume. The impact of this is that as a race we are not generating wealth that has the potential to be invested back into our communities for generations to come, leaving us more vulnerable to poverty, crime, unemployment and poor education. Black businesses are more likely to employ black people. Furthermore, we are the most powerful group of consumers – creating style and popular culture but profiting very little from it.

According to We Buy Black, in the USA a dollar circulates in Asian communities for a month, in Jewish communities for nearly 20 days and white communities for 17 days but unfortunately circulates in the Black community for only 6 hours.

Put quite simply we are failing to generate wealth that has the ability to address economic inequality and encourage economic empowerment. 

To Black Business Owners


Support for black businesses (especially small start-ups) must be respected and reciprocated in the form of honesty, integrity towards one’s customer and/or audience. 

Starting a business especially as a young black entrepreneur is no easy feat. Black entrepreneurs face a unique myriad of challenges: lack of generational wealth (they are the least likely group to have the ability to ask mum and dad for a small loan of 1 million dollars!), discrimination (both overt and unconscious bias still play a part in the securing of funding) as well as lack of networks and mentorship that any business owner needs to thrive – this presents itself as a vicious cycle. The challenge is clear, however, the best brands and businesses survive in this age when they are transparent and connected to their audience. Therefore I believe it is important that business owners are honest and transparent with those who choose to support them. There is nothing worse than receiving substandard service and/or product without any clear and prompt communication. 

“The “community” aspect of business needs to thrive if Black businesses are going to. As consumers, we need to view investment in Black business as investment in an extension of ourselves– investment in the advancement of Black people as a whole. Many consumers seeking out Black-owned businesses already do. That is why we go out of our way to offer support with our dollars, even when other options are more easily available. We also should extend more flexibility to Black business owners because it can sometimes be real out there.”  – Tiffanie Drayton 

It’s important to note that you are entitled to spend your hard earned coin as you please, and of course everyone has different thresholds as to just how flexible they can be – this is the beauty of being an empowered consumer. However if the above resonates with you, regardless of how far you are willing to go be encouraged that we can all play a part in the advancement of black economic empowerment. 

Top tips for discovering quality black brands:

  1. Do your research

Many of the black-owned brands that you will come across are likely to be at the early startup stage. Deciding to purchase goods or services from any startup – black-owned or not – is relatively high risk so doing your research before making a purchase (especially a large one) is important. This will make it less likely that you will receive poor quality service or product. Think: Have they received good reviews? Have they been accredited by the relevant bodies approving it for sale? Etc.

  1. Make it easier to discover quality black-owned brands

Small black-owned businesses by their very nature do not have the visibility that would make them easy to discover. Lucky for us there are now a few platforms that are doing the job for us. These include Jamii an online marketplace and discount card for black-owned businesses, Black High Street an online platform that promotes black enterprise and UK Black Owned a one-stop directory of black British businesses connecting them with consumers. These platforms and directories make it just that little bit easier to discover a diverse range of black-owned brands beyond hair care or African print but everyday day goods and appliances too!

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I also regularly interview Founders within the African diaspora, over on my blog as I believe it is important that we tell our stories as well as create platforms that encourage our visibility in the marketplace. 

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  1. Share

If you discover a good black-owned brand – share! Reviews are gold to small businesses who are working to carve out their brand image and consumer base.  So just as you would have your Twitter fingers ready for a bad review (we’ve all been there!) have them just as ready to rave about an excellent experience and/or quality product – this goes a long way!

Business is hard and even large businesses make mistakes. I think it’s more important than ever in the age of the empowered consumer to invest in the businesses of our future!

Do you know any great black owned businesses? Share them here  

Annette Abena


The Move

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