About Black History Month
The celebration of Black History Month dates all the way back to 1915 when Carter G. Woodson, also known as the Father of Black History Month, founded the “Association For the Study of Negro Life and History”. Later, in 1926, Woodson announced the second week of February, starting February 7th, would be celebrated as “Negro History Week,” to raise awareness about black history.
In 1976, the observance of “Negro History Week” turned into a month-long celebration, when U.S. president Gerald Ford recognized it as a national observance and renamed it “Black History Month” Since then, the United States has celebrated Black History Month every February. Black History Month also coincides with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas, who both played an important role in ending slavery.
This month-long observance now goes far beyond recognition of African-Americans in United States history but is seen as a time to celebrate the activism and achievements of the Black community across the globe. Other countries around the world have joined in on this annual observance, including Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.
As we enter into the month of February and celebrate Black History Month, we’re highlighting black-owned businesses that give back to make the world a better place. Each business and founder has an amazing story to tell of why they do what they do. We honor these business owners and entrepreneurs who rose above unique challenges, who were persistent in their vision, and who make waves of impact through their brave business missions and give-backs.
7 Black-owned Businesses that Give Back 👏
1. 734 Coffee
Product: Coffee | Shop Now
Impact: Funds Humanity Helping Sudan Project, which provides support to Sudanese refugees with advocacy, education, and meeting practical needs.
Manyang Kher- founder of 734 Coffee- was a refugee who struggled hard to achieve where he is now. His earliest memories are of war, violence, and death. While he was three years old, he was amongst the 20,000 children who lost their homes during a civil war in Sudan.
For thirteen years, he lived in refugee camps and experienced hunger, fear, and abuse. When he reached the age of seventeen, he got a chance to leave all this behind and immigrate to the United States. He took this opportunity and fled. He studied in the United States and earned his degree in international law.
During his education years at the University of Richmond, he initiated a Humanity Helping Sudan Project to help people survive in the refugee camps. He started 734 Coffee, a number and a geographical coordinates of Gambela, a place in Ethiopia, where 200,000 South Sudanese citizens live after fleeing war, drought, atrocities, and famine in South Sudan.
He started 734 Coffee to fund Humanity Helping Sudan Project’s program. Today, it works for refugee camps across the region, providing community gardens, agricultural aid, fishing, and education programs that help 40,000 displaced people. The brand aims to make 734 Coffee a story and the beginning of something extraordinary.
Product: Handbags | Shop Now
Impact: Creates sustainable jobs and income for women artisans in Ghana, Africa.
AAKS is a women-owned business founded by Akosua Afriyie-Kumi to bring her favorite weaving technique from Ghana to the rest of the world. AAKS creates handbags that showcase intricate and beautiful African weaving patterns. AAKS’s beautiful collection of handbags consists of handmade bags woven by artisans in Ghana. Each bag is handwoven with vibrant colors and brings sustainable jobs to women in Ghana, Africa.
Between laughs and chats, these women artisans weave each bag together with ecologically harvested raffia palms, sourced from local family farms. AAKS uses raffia and finishes the bags with leather, offering the world something unique and stylish. The company mixes unique design philosophy with a value for artisanship, empowerment, and authenticity.
3. Justice of the Pies
Product: Sweet and Savory Pies | Shop Now
Impact: Supports low-income communities with meals and health education.
Justice of the Pies is another black-owned brand that gives back. Based in Chicago, it specializes in quiches, sweet and savory pies, and tarts. The founder, Maya-Camille Broussard, is an entrepreneur who established the company in honor of her late father, Stephen J. Broussard. His love for baking and eating anything “made out of crust” convinced her to start her business.
In addition to making stellar pies of every kind, the bakery organizes its famous I KNEAD LOVE Workshop many times a year. The workshops help young children from lower-income communities to learn about healthy development while acquiring baking skills and encouraging creativity in the kitchen. The main objective of this bakery is to help in eradicating food insecurities.
Moreover, the bakery also prepares meals for communities on Chicago’s West and South sides. It has also collaborated with Alternatives Youth, Maria Kaupas Center, Frontline Foods, and Jewish Children and Family Services to further support local low-income communities.
4. Melanie Marie
Product: Jewelry | Shop Now
Impact: Supports a mentorship program for young girls to gain confidence, develop their talents, and grow in business.
Melanie White, the founder of Melanie Marie, is a business owner, philanthropist, entrepreneur, motivator, speaker, and mentor. Receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Science from Hampton University in 2008, she started her career in nursing. However, things changed fast, and she switched to launching an accessory business, naming it Melanie Marie, in 2009. The company did not last long, and she found herself in huge debt when her partner disappeared.
This setback fueled her to work even harder, and soon enough, she found her jewelry pieces in big stores and even saw celebrities wearing her designs! In 2013, she launched her custom jewelry, which was a big hit. Soon after, she decided to use her business to begin a mentorship program for young girls, called MM Gems & Jewels. She also helped people who dreamed of becoming entrepreneurs who didn’t know how to get started. Helping people has become her passion, and she believes in helping people reach new levels of success.
5. BLK and Bold
Product: Coffee | Shop Now
Impact: 5% of profits given to support underprivileged youth and to eliminate youth homelessness
BLK & Bold is another black-owned business that gives back, founded by Pernell Cezar and Rod Johnson. BLK & Bold creates quality coffee blends made from Fair Trade coffee beans. Not only does Blk & Bold create amazing, quality coffee, the company also aims to equip young people with tools to overcome unfortunate circumstances. They believe that they can turn a coffee cup into something that can give something back to the people.
The brand promises 5% of its profits to projects that aim to improve workforce development, sustain youth programs, and eliminate youth homelessness. They give to 14 youth programs around the country that support underserved youth. Their coffee is available in 5,600 retail locations within the United States.
6. Zandra Beauty
Product: Beauty and Skin Care | Shop Now
Impact: 10% of every purchase supports the education of girls across the globe.
Zandra Azariah Cunningham is a 19-year old entrepreneur who, at the age of 9, began to create her lip balm and body butter. Zandra often experienced dry and itchy skin with most beauty products, so she then aimed to create products that smelled nice but also resulted in much softer skin. She also wanted to offer products to girls that were free of unhealthy ingredients. With her family’s support, she launched her business on her 10th birthday, where she sold her first products at local farm markets.
Zandra’s small business grew and today, Zandra Beauty has a large collection of beauty products that are plant-based and eco-friendly. In addition, Zandra donates 10% of every purchase to support the education of girls across the globe. Part of the proceeds provides free STEM and entrepreneurship workshops to youth in underserved areas.
Product: Eyewear | Shop Now
Impact: Supports sustainability and employment efforts in Ghana and Kenya.
Bohten is a black-owned brand famous for stylish eyewear. In addition to creating modern, unique glasses, Nana Boateng Osei and Nana Kwadwo Osei, the founders and business owners, carry a mission to support sustainability and employment in Ghana and Kenya.
Bohten has collaborated with Miti Alliance in Kenya to plant vegetation to help eradicate food insecurity and deforestation. The brand is working on a similar project in Ghana where it collaborates with Greening Commodities to support local women of the northern region town of Tamale.
With a vast collection of eyewear, the brand also educates local students and residents on eye care. The company aims to remove poor eyesight as a barrier to learning and social development.
The Bottom Line
There is so much to celebrate and honor when it comes to these black-owned businesses that give back. The Black community has had to overcome massive obstacles and yet has continued to achieve excellence in every sphere of society. These incredible founders have not only seen success as a way to further themselves but to pull others up alongside their success. To these impactful black-owned businesses, we say thank you! In honor of Black History Month, we encourage you to support one (or many) of these black-owned businesses that are making waves in the world.
Happy February, and Happy Black History Month.
With Love, 💗
The GG Team