An online directory for Black-owned businesses in Manitoba continues to expand after launching last spring.
Black Owned Manitoba was launched in June 2020, around the time of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“(We thought) how can we create something that highlights and empowers (economic) growth of the Black community in our province,” co-founder France Bahati told Global News.
“There was nothing like that.”
The website now features well over 100 businesses and professionals, including restaurants, clothing retailers, hair salons, makeup artists, consulting companies, gardening companies, doctors, and dentists.
“You can go to Google and say I want to find a Chinese restaurant, but it was so hard to say I want to find a Black-owned business,” co-founder Odette Bahati said. “So our directory is able to help you do that and it’s for everybody.”
She adds that the response has been overwhelming.
“It is friendly Manitoba for sure, because we’re seeing how much people are using the resources that are being put out there,” she said.
“And we hope this momentum and this support is not just a trend and that it is going to continue — not only this year, not only next year, but going forward.”
Merri Tekle runs Ambience Hair Studio in downtown Winnipeg. She says the website has brought in new clientele.
“I think for a lot of African American hair, there’s not a lot of options of places to go to to get your hair done. In the last five years there’s this trend that you don’t have to get your hair straightened, you can just wear it naturally,” Tekle said.
“We’ve been getting a lot of Black people with natural hair, which is nice, tight, curly hair,” she added.
“It’s not the same as doing straight hair. It takes a lot of time, it’s very fragile, and we’ve been getting a lot of clients from (the website).”
Amina Ayoade runs Bubbalatte Cakes & Bakery. She says she hopes the platform will help inspire a younger generation.
“I feel like it’s really important for us to put ourselves out there,” Ayoade said.
“Each person gets to have a voice, and it lets other people know, especially young kids. Like, you can do this, this is something you can do. You can be a Black little kid and you can have big dreams about owning your own business. It’s totally doable.”
Francine and Odette, who are sisters, are both business owners themselves. They say the response has been so overwhelming, they’re looking for volunteers to help with Black Owned Manitoba, and they’re always looking to add more businesses to the directory.
“It has been a resource for not only Black people but for our allies as well,” Francine said.
“If you want to support the community and support community growth of Black businesses and the Black community in our province, you can go to the Black-owned directory.”
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