Mzuzukile Soni, CEO and founder of BrownSense, talks to us about the movement that aims to promote black-owned businesses.
BrownSense is a safe space created for black people who want to buy from black-owned businesses unappologetically. We want black-owned businesses to be empowered and improved.
This movement started four years before the actual Facebook page. Growing up in Soweto, I realised the need for this movement because township businesses were struggling to gain exposure. This inspired me to start the BrownSense movement. I created the Facebook page in 2016, when there was an uproar over the racist comments made by Penny Sparrow, describing black beach goers as monkeys. This was following former Standard Bank Investment strategist Chris Hart making racist statements. It was time for us as black people to empower ourselves, and each other.
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The movement has grown immensely. Although initially supposed to be an indoor expo, its market has grown. Exhibitors come every last Sunday of the month to showcase their businesses.
Last year, the movement also gave birth to The People’s Fund, a crowd funding platform that aims to raise capital for small businesses. We are now working towards a co-operative bank which will be operating within five years. We will also be launching a BrownSense series of workshops and seminars which will be a platform for entrepreneurs to meet and discuss their challenges, and empower each other. These workshops will take place bimonthly; the first one was held on 21 April, and sponsored by Aluwani Capital. This is a black-owned pension fund management company. We will also be launching a travel agency that will provide people with affordable opportunities to travel, offering different packages on flights and accommodation.
BrownSense does not operate as a profit making businesses. So, we hope that our different franchises will make profit.
If you would like to exhibit at the BrownSense market, email [email protected]