Black-owned business directory to come online in Manitoba

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Three Winnipeg women create an online directory for Black-owned businesses in Manitoba – Jun 16, 2020

Waves of support for the Black community have poured on to social media following the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis.

Anti-racism tweets and photos have been centre stage and that sparked an idea for 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.

The three co-owners of Black-owned MB are pictured, Ima Eknem, Odette Bahati and Francine Bahati. Global News

“I saw everyone sharing a black square and tagging Black businesses but I thought, ‘Is this only a trend for now? Because this has to continue,'” Francine said.

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The trio created Black-owned MB — an online resource connecting Manitobans with Black-owned businesses in the province.

So far, there are have been nearly 100 Manitobans who have applied to have their business in the directory.

“This movement isn’t just a trend, we want this space to a resource for everyone, all the 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 might not hire me because I’m a Black woman,” Odette said.

“After this movement, we have a voice and I now know it’s not just me that’s been struggling.”

The website boasts a variety of professionals to help connect Manitobans with each other.

“Can you name five Black restaurants in the city, or Black clothing designers, professionals or lawyers or doctors? This initiative will help people to know we exist,” said Eknem.

The three agreed they’ve never seen anything comparable in Canada yet, but would be interested in expanding outside the province.

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The website is expected to launch June 29, but the group says the door will always be open to new applicants in Manitoba.

Interested businesses can apply here.

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