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The widespread Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 have left many people wondering how they can better support Black communities. Embracing Black Pound Day is a great place to start.
Last updated: 14 Oct 2020 6 min read
Launched in June 2020 by DJ and So Solid Crew member Swiss, Black Pound Day is a national drive to support, celebrate and raise awareness of Black-owned businesses. By encouraging shoppers to adopt more inclusive buying habits every month, it aims to grow the Black economy and, in turn, help Black communities thrive. Support for the initiative has grown rapidly in the past few months, with more than 27,000 people now following it on Instagram alone.
The campaign was timed to capitalise on a wave of conscious consumerism sparked by 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests, with founder Swiss saying he wanted to “redirect that energy and create something positive out of the frustration”.
“I’m not telling anyone to boycott any businesses,” he told the BBC, “I’m just saying make a concentrated effort to seek out your Black business in your local area or online and spend with that business on that day.”
Black Pound Day now takes place on the first Saturday of every month, with the next event planned for 7 November. On this day, patrons of Black-owned businesses are urged to build on the campaign’s momentum by sharing their purchases on social media using the #BlackPoundDay and #BlackPoundReceipt hashtags.
As well as spreading the word, the campaign aims to make it easy for shoppers to find new suppliers by providing an online directory of Black-owned businesses, categorised by type. Visitors to the Black Pound Day website can either search for products and services, or simply browse through more than 1,000 businesses that have signed up to be included. Patrons are encouraged to upload receipt details from Black Pound Day purchases via the website so that the impact of the initiative on collective spending can be measured.
Naomi Davis added her online book store Our Books to the Black Pound Day directory with the immediate goal of reaching more customers, but she’s also looking beyond her own business at what the initiative might achieve.
“Visibility for Black-owned businesses is so important, and the Black Pound Directory can provide that,” she says. “I’m a big believer in generational wealth, and I think for the UK economy to grow and thrive, we do need to do our part to support smaller businesses and businesses owned by people with Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds.
“As well as connecting me with more customers, the directory is a handy tool to help me support other Black-owned businesses,” she adds.
“The average consumer needs to realise that it isn’t just their sales that support Black-owned businesses; their reviews, opinions and feedback also make a huge difference to what becomes available to consumers themselves” Annie Amusu, founder, Epiphannie A
“It’s an opportunity that hasn’t been there before, at least not on this grand a scale,” says engineer and inventor Michael Omotosho, whose company Plugull, which manufactures inclusive electrical accessories to help users remove fiddly plugs from sockets, is also listed on the directory.
“Black Pound Day can really help the large number of brilliant Black-owned companies out there that haven’t had the platform to reach big audiences. It’s great to promote and showcase them in this way, to make it easy for shoppers and businesses to connect. No institutions or platforms have focused on supporting Black businesses in such an open and powerful way before.”
The first Black Pound Day took place at the end of June, and while there have only been three events since, businesses involved are already benefiting from the momentum.
“We actually see our highest traffic and website sign-ups over the Black Pound Day weekend compared to any other period in the month,” says Annie Amusu, founder of Black beauty price comparison website Epiphannie A. “Over the September Black Pound Day weekend, the first we were involved for, we saw a 42% increase in user sign-ups to the website compared with the same weekend in August 2020.”
Our Books founder Davis admits that it’s early days, but says she’s still feeling the impact: “We’ve seen spikes in our website traffic during the last couple of events, and noticed an increase in people sharing Our Books’ profile across social media and via word of mouth – which is always such a huge help with raising awareness for the company. That’s a long-term boost that benefits us even when Black Pound Day isn’t on.”
It’s hoped that the short bursts of active encouragement each month will translate into more people supporting Black-owned businesses on a day-to-day level.
“Supporting Black-owned businesses is not about purchasing our products on one particular day; it is about breaking the cycle and recognising an under-represented community,” says Maryann Penfold, founder of Trinidad-inspired condiment-maker Boom Sauce (pictured above).
“I personally signed up to be included in Black Pound Day because it was important to me to show solidarity and join in with an amazing network of other small businesses – and just by changing where they spend their money, consumers can be a part of that solidarity too.”
Asked what else consumers could do to provide long-term, sustainable support, Amusu offers the following advice: “I think that the average consumer needs to realise that it isn’t just their sales that support Black-owned businesses; their reviews, opinions and feedback also make a huge difference to what becomes available to consumers themselves.”
“It’s so easy for consumers to head straight to places like Amazon to make purchases, just because of ease, delivery times or pricing – I know as this is something I’ve been guilty of,” adds Davis. “So I’d ask for consumers to remember that we’re here all month, and not just on Black Pound Day.”
Retail and Wholesale