We caught up with Benedicta Banga, founder of Blaqbase to talk about her new venture and how it’s set to help black-owned businesses become more visible in the mainstream…
How did you come up with the idea for Blaqbase?
I started building Blaqbase as a shopping and discovery app last year. In short, the app is the easiest way to discover and support black-owned businesses.
It all started because I was in search of career role models at my next level and above. I wanted to showcase great things black women were doing and have one place to inspire other black women. The second thing was my experience of shopping for simple things like makeup or haircare local to me. It was hit and miss whether my local department stores had any makeup for my skin colour and you definitely couldn’t get haircare products, I had to drive miles.
This was both frustrating and inconvenient. When I started my research I discovered that black women were the least funded group by VCs. Their businesses are not always visible in searches, this makes discovering and buying from them a challenge. The result is that this impacts their ability to grow and in turn get funded. These 3 issues informed what I wanted to build.
What are the main issues you think black businesses face?
There are several issues that black-owned businesses face: lack of access to funding, visible role models and mentors, ideas being taken seriously or being dismissed and not having the same access to retail opportunities in the case of product-based brands.
What advice would you give to other women looking to start a business?
I would say do it and learn as you go. Find like-minded people to bounce ideas off because it helps with making progress when you are in unfamiliar territory. Don’t give up at the first hurdle, keep going and be creative when solving problems. Most of all enjoy the journey, you will always learn something especially when you are outside your comfort zone.
What do you have planned for Blaqbase over the coming months?
Plans are to continue growing the app sign-ups, purchases, brands and community. I will also be talking to the community and making improvements to the app.