Local tech startup SellSwipe has launched Shop Black, a nationwide directory of black-owned businesses.
It’s no coincidence that the website launched today, on Juneteenth—the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the U.S.—says founder David Facey, who was inspired to create the directory as a way to promote supporting the black community amid the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.
Growing up in Chicago, Facey says he had never personally experienced racism until he began his entrepreneurial journey with SellSwipe.
“When you try to open your own business, apply for loans, get private funding and really just gain some financial freedom—that’s when you start seeing the impacts of systemic racism,” Facey says. “The goal with [Shop Black] is to empower black businesses and give them a place where they can be featured.”
Already, the directory—modeled after the Keep BR Shopping website, which SellSwipe also created—features more than 8,000 listings of black-owned businesses throughout the U.S. The website was also formed in partnership with the YWCA of Chicago, which does work to support black women entrepreneurs.
David Jones II, SellSwipe’s chief marketing officer, says the aim of the directory is to use technology as a medium for achieving economic equality. Through its web-based platform, Jones says Shop Black offers accessibility and the opportunity for community participation—two components that he says are currently lacking for most black small business owners, including those in Baton Rouge.
The startup is building an API that will allow businesses to access all available data at no cost to them. It also enables them to create their own profiles or edit existing ones.
“This isn’t about handouts, it isn’t about feeling sorry for black folks,” Jones says. “This is about amplifying the value of black entrepreneurship to its rightful place.”