If you’ve ever needed a resource to help you easily find local Black businesses to support, you’ll be happy to know that Mandy Bowman created one.
Since graduating with a degree in entrepreneurship and global business management from Babson College, Bowman has been a driven advocate for economic empowerment and ownership within the Black community. She founded the Offical Black Wall Street, a Black-owned business directory and resource platform in 2015.
In 2017 she created an app version for the resource to make it more accessible. Today, her platform features 6,000 businesses. We spoke with Bowman about using her platform to financially empower African American entrepreneurs.
What inspired you to create Official Black Wallstreet?
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, so I experienced a lot of gentrification. A lot of the Black-owned businesses that were staples in our community closed down because they just weren’t able to keep up. That inspired me to go out and support as many Black-owned businesses in my community as possible. I created this little spreadsheet, did my own research, and found a lot of really dope businesses right in my backyard. I decided I should share this with other people and get them to support as well.
How has the pandemic impacted Black businesses?
One of the most startling stats that came out was that 41 percent of all Black-owned businesses closed down from the start of COVID until now. I believe it was about 400,000 Black-owned businesses that had to close down because they just weren’t able to survive during this time period. A lot of them were brick and mortar. Now more than ever and you know there’s been this huge outpouring of support from larger companies and from our community and even outside of our community. I have seen an uptick whenever there is this incident of police brutality that happens in our community. This has definitely been the largest outpouring of support. My biggest thing is that we have to continue and make it a lifestyle thing and not make it a trend.
Tell us about the special award your organization is doing in honor of Black Business Month.
We partnered with Snapchat to give away up to $30,000 for Black entrepreneurs. We have three awards that we’re giving away — the Official Black Wall Street Entrepreneur of the Year award for $15,000, the Innovator of the Year. That goes to a Black entrepreneur who has just done something super innovative to create change in their community and we’re giving that person $10,000. Then we have the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award, which goes to any Black entrepreneur who has done amazing things for their community whether they opened their doors to feed people during COVID-19 or anything that has had a positive impact on their community. Applications and nominations are now open, so you can nominate another Black entrepreneur or you can nominate yourself. The applications are currently open from now until Sunday, Aug. 16.
For more information visit //officialblackwallstreet.com.