Mandy Bowman: Supporting a Network of Black-owned Businesses
Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Mandy Bowman, founder & CEO of Official Black Wall Street. Let’s see what she is doing to make a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Welcome, Mandy! Thanks a million for talking to me today. Let’s jump right in. What challenge are you addressing with Official Black Wall Street?
Mandy: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! I started Official Black Wall Street (OBWS) to support a community in need. Growing up in Brooklyn, New York it was common to see Black-owned businesses on just about every block. Unfortunately this changed drastically with the rise of gentrification. I watched as one Black-owned business after the next closed down, many of them no longer able to keep up with the rising costs of gentrification and compete with the neighborhood's new Targets and Starbucks. I found countless stats illustrating how challenging it was, still is for Black entrepreneurs to gain the funds needed to excel in business. So I launched the OBWS platform and app to become an advocate for Black Business owners and to help our entrepreneurs gain the exposure, support, and resources they need to thrive.
Spiffy: That’s a great initiative! Could you elaborate further on what motivated you to do it?
Mandy: My community motivates me to continue growing OBWS. Knowing that I am creating something that is benefiting my community is the greatest gift.
Spiffy: In your words, how is your organization working towards a more equitable world?
Mandy: Using the OBWS app, users are able to find, review, and shop Black-owned businesses on a user-friendly app. We also partner with a number of corporations, from Snapchat to Morgan Stanley, to provide Black entrepreneurs with resources, help them offset major business expenses, and give them access to funding opportunities. We partnered with global law firm Baker Botts to provide Black entrepreneurs with $10 million in free legal services for the next three years. Since launching the OBWS app, we have cultivated a community of over 900K conscious consumers, and circulated an estimated $1.7 million within the Black community.
Spiffy: Wow, talk about inspiring! Tell me about a recent OBWS milestone and the impact it makes.
Mandy: We were recently featured in a video series by Google! Through this feature, I was able to share my story, my "why," and my family who have had a profound impact on me.
Spiffy: Congratulations! Before I let you go, could you talk about an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up? What did you learn from it?
Mandy: In 2016, I was a part time entrepreneur while working at Essence during the day time. OBWS was growing and the demand for an accompanying app was growing with it. I needed to find $35,000 to begin app development. I decided a crowdfunding campaign would be my best route. However this would require that I step outside of my comfort zone as an introvert, push myself into the spotlight to share my “why”, and face my fear of failure in a very public way if I didn’t reach my goal. After months of second guessing, I finally launched that Kickstarter. Stepping outside of my comfort zone to launch this crowdfunding campaign changed my life and opened up so many opportunities.
Spiffy: That’s fantastic, Mandy! Thanks for speaking with me today, it’s been an honor.
Mandy Bowman is the Founder and CEO of Official Black Wall Street, the largest digital platform helping consumers find & support Black-owned businesses. The Brooklyn native felt called to launch the Official Black Wall Street platform in 2015, and the app in 2017, after witnessing the challenges Black-owned businesses endured in her hometown. Since then, Mandy has become a 2-time TEDx speaker who was honored for her work in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. (First published on the Ladderworks website on December 16, 2021)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.