BBA provides a map for building businesses and community empowerment

BBA provides a map for building businesses and community empowerment

Young Montrealer and her team have a plan

The spring of 2020, news of the killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubrey, and most notably George Floyd brought a seismic shift in the hearts and minds of many minorities.
On the streets worldwide protests and marches included calls for the need for protection and support of Blacks and their businesses.
In June of that same year, Montrealer Kayla Crawley thought of a way to empower and bring her community together.
She met virtually with the CONTACT to talk about her new enterprise the Black Business Atlas (BBA) and how it is positioned to assist in the empowerment and growth of communities across the country .

“I’ve always enjoyed helping people and obviously being a Black female, the Black community is something I really believe in and (is committed) to empower,” she says.

“After the killings of Ahmaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd on social media everybody was talking about buying Black. And for me, being a Black woman, I always just went to the Black hair stores, and I knew which products to buy. But you know, when it came to different products, I don’t know where to start. And that’s why I created the Black Business Atlas group on Facebook initially called BLACK MTL.”

The group was aimed at bringing Black business owners together to support, promote themselves and each other. She was prepared for a slow growth but in about a week the group had 10,000 members.

“It blew up almost overnight into something that I that I never imagined. Our Facebook group is really to give back to the Black community and it’s a way for the black community to come together to have different discussions to seek out is by and to seek out other black entrepreneurs and how to continue to buy black or even just to start dialogue,” Crawley explains.

“There’s been a lot of positive feedback about how people believe this group is so beneficial for them and their business,” she says. “A lot of people have started businesses from the Facebook Group other have claimed that their business just kind of took off because of the Facebook group. So, it’s been a really positive tool for the community.
Presently, the BBA group boasts over 52,000 members.
With such high numbers Crawley wanted to create a platform for these businesses and after a year she launched the Black Business Atlas website where over 150 Black owned business have registered.
The criterion for listing is that the business must have at least 51% Black ownership. The website now connects all kinds of customers to Black businesses from tech, beauty, health, legal and a host of others.
Crawley, who holds a B.A from University of Ottawa pulled in her friends Fatoumata Barry and Marly Damas to help with the expansion of the business as she didn’t have a business background.
She says the collaboration resulted in a team of like-minded individuals using their give of their strengths and skills to keep the business running smoothly.
Barry and Damas continue to serve as directors and coordinators at Black Business Atlas.
Crawley says the overwhelmingly positive response has been encouraging to her and the team to keep going and continue to build.
And points to partnerships with community groups to help empower the community. One such collaboration is with the West Island Black Community Association who joined them for a big holiday giveaway initiative to assist families in need.
The Black Business Atlas offers various plans for entrepreneurs providing different levels of visibility for their businesses.
Crawley’s hope is that more Black businesses across Canada will join the BBA which inevitably will spur economic activities and growth that is much needed in our communities.

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