In 2015, Mandy Bowman founded Official Black Wall Street, which is a next-generation digital platform that has become known as the largest global directory of black-owned businesses. In an effort to further the platform’s mission, Bowman has recently launched an app which lets users know when they are near a Black-owned business. The goal of the app is to make the directory more accessible and to encourage people to spend money within the Black community. Bowman says that through her platform she’s aiming to give Black businesses the exposure that they deserve and hopes that it will help bring them more revenue.
People using the app have the ability to filter businesses by category, location, and different keywords. They are also able to view all of the businesses on a virtual map and leave reviews about their shopping experience. Bowman states:
“I believe it’s due time for us to make a conscious effort to buy Black. We’ve heard the stats – that we have a $1.2 trillion dollar buying power, yet a dollar only stays in our community for 6 hours whereas in Jewish and Asian communities, their dollar circulates for 20 days and a month, respectively. Supporting black-owned businesses will allow us to vote with our dollars while strengthening the local economy in the black community.”
I think this is a really good idea in general and I’m glad it’s been turned into an app. It not only lets you see what businesses are in your local community that are Black-owned, but it also lets you support Black business owners when you’re traveling. Additionally, you can find directions, business info, images, reviews, and more on each dedicated business listing. You can also bookmark your favorite businesses and the app will notify you when they have new offers and updates. Think of it as a Yelp for black businesses with added features. On the business owners side, you can promote your listing and show up at the top of search results when users search for similar businesses, bridge the gap between you and your customers by messaging them straight from the app, and gain sales by adding your special offers and promo codes.
I downloaded it to test it out, and unfortunately, it doesn’t work in my particular area. But I was able to randomly check other cities but it was a bit clunky. After you select a city, you have the option to filter by type of service or business that you’re looking for. Which is great. But if you filter to “non-profit” for example, you can’t then search generally for Black-owned businesses in your area. I am not trying to criticize this app as I think it’s a really good idea. I am criticizing the technology as I think it could be refined and a bit easier to use.
The app is fairly new so I wonder if there needs to be “buy-in” from more businesses. How else do they get included in the app? Presumably, the app doesn’t just know where all the Black-owned businesses are? Once more business owners get on board with this, I think it will take off. I did try a couple of different categories and wasn’t finding anything. And I picked a couple of different random cities as well. This might also speak to a larger problem that maybe there aren’t Black-owned businesses in those cities? Again, I think this is a great idea and I hope it comes to my city soon. I did have better luck when I picked a larger city, though – so it does work. As far as the app goes, like I said, I think it’s a great idea and I hope that more business owners get on board with this as I think it can only be beneficial to their business.
For more information on Official Black Wallstreet, head over to Bowman’s website. From there you can also download the app to get started.