Waves of support for the black community poured out on social media following the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis.
Anti-racism tweets and photos took center stage and it inspired three Winnipeg women to create a new online platform.
Ima Eknem, Odette Bahati and Francine Bahati decided to create an online directory of black-owned businesses.
“I saw everyone sharing a black square and tagging black businesses, but I was like, ‘Is this just a trend for now? Because it has to continue,'” Francine said.
“There’s a difference between just sharing and supporting.”
The trio created Black-owned MB, an online resource connecting Manitobans to Black-owned businesses in the province.
To date, nearly 100 Manitobans have applied to have their businesses listed on the directory.
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“This movement is not just a trend, we want this space to be a resource for everyone, all allies in Manitoba and also for the black community to know where they can go to support black businesses,” said Odette.
The three women are business owners themselves and say it was their own struggles that helped push the idea forward.
“I had this fear that someone wouldn’t hire me because I’m a black woman,” Odette said.
“After this move we have a voice and now I know it’s not just me struggling.”
The website features a variety of professionals to help connect Manitobans with each other.
“Can you name five black restaurants in town, or black clothing designers, or professionals, or lawyers, or doctors? This initiative will help people know that we exist,” Eknem said.
The three agreed that they had never seen anything comparable in Canada before, but would be interested in expanding outside the province.
The website is set to launch on June 29, but the group says the door will always be open to new applicants to Manitoba.
Interested companies can apply here.
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