By Winnie Gaturu

If you’re looking for a way to support black-owned business, The Black Mall (TBM) is the perfect solution. It is an online business directory that helps you find products and services from black-owned businesses across the nation. The mall was started as a means to offer support to both existing businesses and startups. Supporting black business goes a long way in supporting and promoting growth in the black community by creating more employment opportunities and improving the quality of life for many families. According to Black Demographics, 95% of black-owned businesses are sole proprietorships thus supporting them directly impacts the lives of the owners.

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Cassiopeia Uhuru

TBM, which was founded in 2011 by Cassiopeia Uhuru and Dre Meekins, focuses on creating awareness and promoting growth and success of black-owned business across the African American community. It has since connected over 2,000 Black-owned businesses with their target audience nationwide and accumulated a subscriber list of more than 100k people.

The idea to start it came when the duo was looking for a meal in their neighborhood back in 2011. They wanted to support a black-owned restaurant but they couldn’t find a proper resource to assist them. Instead of giving up, they decided to conduct the search themselves. They looked around in their neighborhood and compiled a list of all black-owned and operated restaurants they came across. At the end of it, they had more than they imagined and so they decided to spread the news.

TBM is able to support black business in a number of different ways. The main thing they do is offer an e-Commerce platform that features black-owned products from different areas in the United States. This makes it possible for sellers to reach a wider audience while buyers are able to find the products and services they need. As part of a research they were conducting, the founding duo noted that many black-owned businesses are not housed in storefronts and are only showcased in marketplaces that occur during celebration times, Juneteenth and Kwanzaa. To help solve this problem, they started the Ujamaa Markets hosted on TBM, for businesses that don’t have a brick-and mortar location. The market takes place on a monthly basis and provides a space for black vendors to promote and sell their products and services to a targeted audience. In addition, the website also promotes social action endeavors, events, job postings, cultural enrichment and articles.

The Black Mall storefront in Chicago
This year, The Black Mall founders opened up a storefront at Boombox Chatham space, to complement their e-Commerce website, located in Chicago. Inside, you’ll find items for sale from a variety of vendors. These include t-shirts, cookies, hand crafted jewelry, vegan deodorant, natural beauty products, comics and many more. The shop is open from Monday to Saturday and closed on Sundays.

The founders of TBM hope that they’ll be able to open up more storefronts to promote a higher number of black-owned businesses. In the meantime you can go though their website or visit the store to buy what appeals to you. If you’re a business owner, you can also use TBM to advertise your black-owned organization, business, product, service or even yourself.

Will you utilize The Black Mall?

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Winnie Gaturu is a writer, tech lover, mom, wife and student from Nairobi, Kenya. During her free time, she loves trying out new recipes, diy projects, filling in crossword puzzles and spending time with her family. You can catch up with her onyourhairandbeautywrite.wordpress.com

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