Five Black Women-Led Initiatives Making Community Strides

As the number of Black-owned businesses continues to rise worldwide, here are five inspirational women’s endeavours to highlight that are bound to open eyes and ears to just how much (and how hard) Black women are working for their communities.

There’s never an inopportune time to highlight women across various, versatile fields making waves in their communities, especially Black women, who have statistically been the only racial group with more business ownership than their male counterparts, according to a research study highlighted in Forbes

What makes these women worth talking about is that, despite a tendency to be deprived of the tools and resources to make themselves and their ideas heard, their business endeavours come from an authentic desire to fill a gap in their community that they are not willing to neglect themselves. As the number of Black-owned businesses continues to rise worldwide, here are five inspirational women’s endeavours to highlight that are bound to open eyes and ears to just how much (and how hard) Black women are working for their communities. Because remember: who run the world? Well, we know the answer to that already. 

YOGA KONGA

“I want people to see that there was and is much more than slavery and poverty in Africa and the black community.”

Isa Konga is a certified yoga teacher and entrepreneur based in Germany. Founder of what she describes as an “every occasion yoga brand,” the wife and mother previously worked as a model and engineer before being introduced to yoga eleven years ago, immersing herself into the practice ever since. 

She started her company, YOGA KONGA, as a result of seeing what she considers to be a “very white-washed yoga world.” Her brand’s vision stemmed from a desire to diversify the yoga landscape, particularly by opening up the community to the untapped knowledge of the African roots of the practice and traditional textiles and dyeing techniques that can be incorporated into yoga’s wear and tools

Isa is also focused on helping people live a more holistic and spiritual life, currently in the midst of offering Smai Tawi (African yoga) exercises through classes online for beginners. “As a black person, when you find out that your ancestors [practised] those exercises, it draws [them] toward it, naturally. You feel home in this discipline,” she says. “YOGA KONGA is about storytelling. I want [it] to grow into a movement and community where everybody feels empowered and energized, where we interact and listen to each other, where we take care of each other and heal together.” 

FOUR BROWN GIRLS

“Black women having safe digital and physical spaces promote innovation, risk-taking and inquiry. It allows her to slay, grow and learn in a safe and supportive environment where she knows she is valued.”

FOUR BROWN GIRLS “started off with a conversation,” says Simone, one of the women behind the Montréal-based initiative that focuses on creating value-based events and providing an online outlet that promotes guidance, mentorship and leadership for women of colour. That initial conversation eventually fueled into a movement—the four leaders aspiring to change the narrative of being a woman in a city whose ethnic makeup comprises over 250,000+ Black and brown individuals. 

“We felt we were lacking people that resembled us in Montréal, so we started off with a brunch, Brown Beauties Brunching,” an event that was successful in attracting women from all walks of life to gather over good food and better conversation. Soon it became the initiative’s signature.

The conversation sparked their motto of “finding their Brown Girls.” Not long after, they started setting clear goals and finalizing their vision: creating a union of commerce, art and conversation among their sisterhood—one of the four pillars that bring their community together and the movement’s driving force.

“These women are able to connect with other women who see and hear them. They have the security of knowing that our platform was specifically designed for them.” The Canadian initiative also strongly advocates for inclusion and support of all Black lives by acknowledging those lives’ worth, dignity and place in the world. “We need to look beyond ourselves, objectively listen and observe […], then educate our followers.”

Saly.D Artiste

“Painting played a big part in getting answers. This practice [was] a way of reflecting and meditating.” 

Saly.D is a French-Senegalese painter and plastician artist. Her career aspirations began in journalism, but as the job search proved too competitive following her studies, she took to art instead.  “I could hardly accept not being productive. I realized I needed something to entertain and uplift me, something interesting enough to keep myself busy […].” 

Saly’s prolific nature came from growing up very protected particularly by a father who feared violence and negligence in the streets. This proved beneficial, allowing her to focus on exploring unique artistic disciplines. She finally settled on multi-support painting as the source for her creative expression, a craft whereby artists paint on every and any material they can find, including shoes, clothes, furniture, etc. “Painting on all types of objects symbolizes the limitless nature of art; it has no borders.”

She hopes her “no borders” mentality extends into other spheres of everyday life, particularly for aspiring Black artists, whom she wants to know how crucial it is for them to practice self-love and empowerment. “I wish the youth could widen the perception of their future by contemplating jobs and passions they’d never think of before. Whenever I interview young people in schools, and more particularly those coming from an ethnic minority, I invite them to think big and [remind them] they can fulfil their dreams. There are plenty of us creative Black women, receptive to fine arts, and we have the right to own it and satisfy that yearning.”

The Curl Agency (& CURL CON)

“Being an immigrant gives me a very unique way to look at things. Being a Black womxn pretty much makes me resilient to uncomparable measures because I have no other choice.” 

Nana Addison has built her career not only in business and tech but in fighting for the visibility, accessibility and inclusion of BIPOC in the German beauty and lifestyle industry. The 29-year-old Ghanian-German entrepreneur says she started her businesses out of “necessity,” given the lack of basic resources (and access to them) for Black women. “That frustration [and inaccessibility] paired with other similar instances started a domino effect,” she says. 

Nana’s strides began as she was working in the industry, but she soon saw that she also had to “disrupt it,” by promoting ethnically and culturally diverse community activations at a much larger scale. Her work was entirely bootstrapped, using her connections in Hair and Beauty as an opportunity to dismantle a pervasive, albeit narrow-minded, view of diversity in the beauty landscape. “The beauty industry has yet to catch up […],  so they can join the new normal and cater to ALL people in Germany or become outdated.” 

The Curl Agency also regularly co-hosts #BlackLadiesMatter dinners as an opportunity to bring together Black women for dinner and pampering. She hopes to extend her business endeavours in the next year, combining beauty and lifestyle with her passion in tech to create an app that matches users with trained Hair & Beauty professionals that fit individual needs. 

Juba Music (& ASSURANCE)

“[…] for me “advocating” for black women isn’t about this moment or a conscious effort, or something that is done to prove a point or be performative: it’s a natural endeavour.”

Juba began her DJ career in London before moving to Berlin to focus on a more non-commercial approach to music. “In London, venues were under threat and the climate was (and is) a lot more hostile to upcoming DJs, whereas, in Berlin, I was able to network and forge musical connections with likeminded people, which was really important when I first moved.”

The DJ says her Nigerian heritage has profoundly played a part in the way she goes about thinking and working creatively. Her music is testament to how she keeps her roots alive; and even as her tastes change and expand, she continues to pay homage to her ancestry and the influences who continuously shape her work. Those influences, she says, also affect her audience, whom she has found to be receptive to sounds they might not be used to hearing. “[…] my work reflects my interests and background, so naturally Black people have always been focal points.” 

Juba’s mindset has also taken her to explore the work of radio and filmmaking, having produced a documentary film entitled, ASSURANCE, which focuses on the ongoing and contentious debate around gender imbalances in the music industry, particularly among Black women. “Thanks to my Nigerian heritage, I made a documentary about female DJs. As much as I aim to continue growing as a DJ, I also want to make more documentaries because I have a lot to say.” —

As the world continues to evolve and be “disrupted,” as Nana would describe, this is especially the time to support these women and the endeavours that are striving to build Black economic power. These five women’s feats just go to show that taking the time to do the research and think critically of who and what we as consumers support financially should be of the highest importance.

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