There has been much publicity this shopping season about supporting black-owned stores. It was made a little easier for shoppers with the Around the Way app that locates black-owned businesses in your area, but here’s a site you might want to keep in mind for the final hours of your gift hunt —Ujamaa Deals.
Ujamaa Market is the online store for Ujamaa Deals, which is a daily deals site and online store that features products from black-owned companies. And you get a discount as an added incentive to support them.
Ujamaa deals was founded to not only encourage consumers to shop at black-owned businesses, but on the concept that if more people frequent these businesses it would boost employment in the black community.
“My business partner, Lawrence Watkins, and I both recognized the need to make it easier for African Americans to support black-owned businesses and we didn’t think simply creating another black business directory was enough. We looked at the daily deals model (e.g. Groupon, LivingSocial, etc.) and thought that would be a good approach, so that’s where we started. Since then we’ve evolved to a more traditional e-commerce site, so while we still feature deals from time to time, customers can purchase the products we feature even after the deal ends,” Tre Baker, CEO of Ujamaa, explained to us in an email.
The partners wanted to combat this staggering statistic: African Americans spend more than 90 percent of their money with businesses they don’t own.
Ujamaa is on a mission. “Black-owned companies are more likely to hire black employees,” said Baker. “Therefore, the best way to increase black employment is not to beg or demand that other companies hire so-called ‘minorities’ like Bob Johnson suggests, it is to support our own companies so they can grow and afford to hire more people. Affirmative action style policies can only take us so far. We need to start relying on ourselves for full employment.”
Ujamaa finds black-owned businesses via their own research and through submissions. “Once we’ve decided that their products would be a good fit for us, we verify their ownership and upload their products to our site,” Baker says of the process. “There are some key product categories we want to focus on. Right now our attention is on bath and body products so we’ll eventually have the largest online selection of soaps, lotions, hair products, etc., from black-owned companies.”
According to Baker, there is an increase in consumers looking to patronize black-owned businesses as the site is seeing more and more requests. “But our biggest challenge has been finding quality black-owned businesses with great products that people want to buy and convincing them to join us,” said Baker. “It’s going to be a long process, but as long as we keep supporting other businesses before our own, we’ll always have a problem with employment and wealth inequality. I think most African Americans understand this and just need a convenient way to support black businesses. “
Have you patronized black-owned businesses this holiday season?