“This is Black Wall Street reborn using technology.”
Kezia Williams is no stranger to entrepenuership and using technology as a platform to support Black people. Kezia founded The Black upStart to support Black entrepenuers by providing training. This year, My Black Receipt was started by Black upStart to quantify the support of Black-owned businesses. My Black Receipt measures the investment in Black businesses while also helping others find these products.
With My Black Receipt, people upload their receipt from Black-owned businesses onto its website. While the Black Lives Matter protests have continued on, Kezia hopes that protestors will put their money where their mouth is.
With the pandemic, Black businesses have faced tremendous impact on profits and many have had to close. It’s estimated that 41% of Black-owned businesses could be forced to permanently close due to COVID and 90% were unable to receive Payment Protection Program Loans.
“Black wealth is projected to be zero by 2053 and I think if we don’t start taking active steps to combat that, then we’ll be in a really terrible situation.”
In between Juneteenth (June 19) and July 6, My Black Receipt hopes to reach $5 million in spending. On Blackout Day, organizers are calling on Black people to refrain from spending money to show the impact that the Black dollar has in the economy. Yelp teamed up with My Black Receipt, allowing businesses to identify as Black-owned and appear in a “Black-owned” search result.
“When you invest and purchase from a Black-owned business, what you’re really doing is strengthening the Black community.”
Kezia hopes that even after the campaign, investment in the Black community will continue and people will be more aware of what they’re supporting with their dollar. Rather than supporting Black businesses while boycotting other companies after a racist incident or practice comes to the forefront of public opinion, the hope is that people will consistently support and invest in Black businesses.
“It’s no question why Black Women are the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs. I don’t think Black people are starting businesses because they want to be the next Black Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. They’re starting businesses because they want to be economically free. They want to be able to pay themselves what their companies refuse to pay them despite being qualified.”
When it comes to supporting Black-owned businesses, venture capital (VC) has failed. Less than 1% of VC funding is directed at women of color, yet they continue to start businesses at the fastest rate.
Kezia previously led Capital Cause, a nonprofit organization that helped young Black philanthropists in starting nonprofit organizations. Kezia currently leads United Nego College Fund’s (UNCF) natioanl entrepreneurship initiative, which teached Black undergraduate and graduates how to start successful and profitable businesses.
“What a hustler does is wake up every single day and try to go get money. Entrepreneurs wake up every day and what they’re doing is business, creating systems and processes so that when their business scales other people can work for their business outside of just them.”
Check out this Earn Your Leisure podcast interview with Kezia Williams, where she shares more about her philosophy when it comes to entrepreneurship.