By: Priscilla Wiredu
Published on September 30, 2022.
Black businesses tend to face additional challenges when it comes to achieving success in Western countries, as the legacy of White supremacy helps to keep White-owned businesses in power. In fact, a study by the Boston Globe claimed that eight out of every 10 Black businesses failed within the first 18 months of their establishment. This is due to the lack of professional networking in their industries, coupled with the conception that they are viewed as a minority.
However, one woman decided to change the Black business market and their marketability. In 2020, Lamine Loco launched the app Miiriya, a marketplace unlike eBay or Amazon, to specifically promote Black businesses.
Loco claimed that the name “Miiriya” is derived from her native language Bambara/Dioula, and means ‘thoughts’ or ‘ideas.’ This name is fitting, since the app allows Black business owners to promote their product concepts and sell them on the website to direct target markets who seek Black vendors. Miiriya allows Black entrepreneurs, artists, and sellers to sell their fashion, beauty, and lifestyle products at an affordable and accessible price.
The Goal of “Miiriya”
In her own words, Loco envisioned the app with the goal of creating an online store for shoppers looking to support local or national Black businesses, without experiencing vendor fees while providing a safe place for Black shoppers. Loco’s app aims to support Black representation in the marketplace and create a surge in recirculating the Black dollar.
Loco takes on a socialist approach when operating the application. Similar to Wikipedia, vendors are not required to pay fees for a spot on her app. Instead, she returns the money she makes from it to solve issues within her community. In early 2022, Loco created a Mutual Aid section on her website of donation posts from individuals in need of things such as bills, groceries, and shelter for vendors and buyers to donate what they can.
Loco is working on promoting Miiriya’s success so she can continue to give back to impoverished communities. One of her future projects includes setting up community fridges at the front of Black businesses for people seeking food and to help homeless or those struggling from poverty with basic necessities.
“Miiriya.com gathers people who believe in ideas and change to come together as creatives and thinkers to make those ideas come true. It’s a place that aims to provide you with whatever comes to mind.” –Lamine Loco
How Does it Work?
If you wish to become a vendor on Miiriya, you can sign up on their website and click on the human icon on the top right of the website, or the human icon on the bottom right of the app. There are no transaction or listing fees and Loco covers the vendor’s credit card/Paypal fees.
Vendors receive 100 per cent of their earnings, and Loco pays for the website’s bills out of pocket to help keep the shop operating. You can support Loco by opting to tip her if you are shopping or making a sale. Loco understands that some businesses cannot afford to pay for monthly costs due to the lack of sales, which is why the app is free. She also has a Patreon for vendors to sign up for when they establish themselves.
The Success So Far
Miiriya has received excellent reviews for its app since it first launched. AppGrooves has an impressive four-point eight out of five rating on the Apple Store and on the Google Play website. It has more than 100,000 downloads and has increased traffic by 2000 users per day. As stated above, their vendor and shipping policies are fair because they allow beginner vendors seeking a platform to make a profit and jumpstart their careers.
Miiriya has an impactful social media presence, posting memes, informative videos, and other forms of advertisement for the company. Their contact page also accepts solutions for disputes or concerns any shoppers or vendors have.
Miiriya offers Black sellers a head start in the business world with an opportunity like no other; it is affordable, trustworthy, and gives back to the community. Support Miiriya by downloading the app or signing up on their website!
Priscilla Wiredu is a writer for this year’s Black Voice project. An alumni of York University, she graduated with Honors where she studied Social Sciences. She then went on to get an Ontario Graduate certificate in Creative Writing from the Humber School for Writers, and a college certificate in Legal Office Administration at Seneca College. She is currently studying for the LSAT in hopes of going to law school. Her main goal as a Black Voices writer is to ensure Black issues and Black Pride are enunciated through her works.