Black Pound Day: Support Black-Led Businesses and Build a Better Future | Consumer affairs
ANgelina Cummings’ Jamaican Rum Cake has been made by her family for generations, and she’s been making her own version in her Sheffield kitchen for 20 years now. But it wasn’t until May 2020 that she and her husband started packing it into slices to sell online. And the product sold as, well, hot buns.
In the first month, their company, Olga & Asquith Products, received orders for 600 slices from across the UK. It’s an achievement that she says wouldn’t have been possible without movements such as Black lives matter and Black book day. The latter celebrates his first birthday on June 27.
Falling on the first Saturday of each month – that is, June 5 of this month – Black Pound Day encourages consumers to spend their money locally, or online, at black-run businesses (defined like anyone who identifies as black, and including businesses with non-black co-owners). “It encourages all communities to replace their usual purchases with products from black-run businesses … in the hope that spending black becomes standard practice throughout the year,” organizers say.
The Black Pound Day website allows you to search for participating businesses in its directory and online marketplace, and promotes them on social media. There are over 1,500 participants in a range of categories, from clothing, footwear and gifts to food and drink and health and wellness.
Cummings, the majority of whose customers are black, believes the day made the historically economically disadvantaged black community more aware of where it spends its money and allowed it to use consumerism as a means of enable change.
“Instead of just spending it with bigger establishments and companies that monopolize certain sectors, it’s about giving everyone the opportunity to make money,” she says. “When you make money, you reinvest it in your own community. “
She adds: “There is a very small percentage of black-owned businesses in the UK. There must be more, but the only way to do it is to spend the money. Only then will we grow.
However, black entrepreneurs and business owners face multiple challenges. In addition to a multibillion pound ethnic pay gap, black people are more likely to run out of savings or assets, and black-owned businesses less likely to get funding. A 2020 report from Runnymede, the British think tank on race equality and race relations, found that for every £ 1 of white British wealth, black Caribbean households had around 20 pence and black African households around 10 pence. But Black Pound Day has a demonstrable positive impact. The first event generated an additional £ 61,940 in receipts uploaded to the website.
For Zuleika Philips, the founder of London-based Pleasure Drum, Black Pound Day remains her best selling day. She says the company, which makes African-themed wellness products for women, sells an average of 10 of its pelvic strengthening products per week. It goes up to 60 or 70 on black book day.
She says the event is as important and necessary in 2021 as it was at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests last year.
“Due to the inequality of wealth, the black community is still very immature to come to the market and start our own businesses,” she said, adding, “We are trying to get out of this, and we need that support. from the community to be able to grow.
“Supporting black-owned businesses is similar to choosing between the local main street and the big supermarket. We just want to attract a few customers, and we’re ready to make significant changes and differences to our offering and pricing to be able to do that.
But what happens after the urgent debate over racial inequality and injustice subsides? Black Pound Day founder Swiss – a member of the garage collective So Solid Crew – believes the event can and will exist separately over time.
He came up with the idea 12 years ago after noticing a lack of support for black stores while growing up in Battersea, south London in the 1990s, and says the targeted spending at businesses belonging to blacks once a month will eventually become a habit among consumers. But he expects it will take at least three years for Black Pound Day to make its mark on people’s calendars.
“I was wondering if I should do this as an annual event, like Small Business Saturday, but I felt the systemic disparities and inequalities that we face as a community now, and have faced in the past,” meant we needed a regular, consistent event. enough to compensate for some of these imbalances, ”he says.
“I want this to become a national holiday and represent a turnaround for our community. I expect him to eventually facilitate generational wealth, one way or another, as we continue to reenter our community.
He believes this is a brand that large companies outside the community can engage with and support as well. They have already formed a successful partnership with Google, which offers mentoring and digital skills training to businesses registered for Black Pound Day. Meanwhile, another partnership, with Soho House, gives 12 black-owned businesses one year of club membership.
As the UK recovers from the pandemic – a crisis that people of color have paid the economic price for – Swiss believes the best way to help is to spend in businesses in these communities.
Comparing the role of black businesses in helping the UK ‘build back better’ today to the Windrush generation, he says: ‘We have come from the Caribbean to fill the gaps left in the workforce as a result. of World War II… the economy around.
“The big ‘give back’ these days is to support a community which, through its businesses, wants to once again help this country to recover. If that’s not a good reason to spend Black Pound Day, I don’t know what it is.
What a difference a day makes
Folasayo Williams is the founder of Sheni and Teni, a brand of children’s books and puzzles that aims to represent her own culture and that of other African cultures. She says, “On the first day of the black book, I got more orders in one day than I had in a whole month. I had to go to the post office with a big suitcase full of stock to deliver to customers.
” I did not expect that. I was humbled that people went out of their way to research and spend money on products like mine. I felt hopeful and empowered by it.