Note from BW of Brazil: I’ve been going to the annual São Paulo event known as Feira Preta for the past 10 years. It’s an event that I encourage anyone who is interested in the African Diaspora to attend. Of course, in the United States, we’ve seen these sort of black expos going on for decades. Numerous cities throughout the US such as Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta host these events that are basically showcases for black entrepreneurs. In Detroit, my hometown, I always enjoyed going to the World African Festival downtown. At this close of summer event, there was always plenty of food, books, art, videos and music to go around for the tens of thousands of Detroiters to enjoy.
In Brazil, if Feira Preta wasn’t the first of its kind, it was and is certaintly THE most influential. On the heels of Feira Preta’s success, we’ve seen a number of similar events directed at the Afro-Brazilian population in cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Salvador and others. Thinking back, as I’ve attended Feira Preta so often, I don’t remember exactly when I met aspiring entrepreneur Carlos Humberto Silva of the Diaspora.Black project. It must have been either 2016 or 2017. I just remember thinking that he had a great idea: a travel company focusing on accomodations for black people travelling the world. I know that the company doesn’t reject non-black travellers, but as black people are often the victims of discriminatory treatment on their travels, the idea of the company was inspired by these experiences.
My own desire to learn about the history of black people in Brazil was what lead to my now 19 year venture into discovering the country and its people. But other people may have a calling to visit another country and it may not even necessarily be connected to exploring the African Diaspora, and that’s cool too. One day, I plan to visit a number of countries that I have interest in learning about. Some of those countries because of my interest in seeing my people and the situation of those people in other environments, others simply because of their reputations for being wonderful places to visit.
Anyway, as it turns out, a number of investors also thought that the idea of Carlos and his partners was an idea to get behind, as such, it was recently announced that the endeavor was able to attract about BRL 600,000 (reais), which right now is worth about USD 150,000. Congrats to the team over at Diaspora.Black and if people are interested in travelling and finding accomodations beyond the traditional hotel route, most def check them out over at https://diaspora.black/
Diaspora Black: Afro tourism project raises $600,000 in crowdfunding in just two weeks
With information from Mundo Negro and Movimento Black Money
Several corners of the African continent can be found here in Brazil. However, what is the color of the people who make money from Afro tourism that attracts people even from abroad? And how do these people who hold economic power for profits in black culture treat us, the African descendants?
The start-up Diaspora.Black, a startup focused on Afrocentric tourism, has also mapped out a major pain in the market: discrimination in hotels and accommodations. A study from Harvard University showed that there is a higher rejection rate of black people on shared accommodation sites and discriminatory treatment in hotel chains (see recent case involving supermodel Naomi Campbell, for example). In Brazil, 47% of blacks have already faced situations of racism while traveling, according to a USP survey.
Racism is a structural problem that intersects the most different indicators of inequality; and directly and profoundly affects the living conditions of at least 54% of the Brazilian population, self-declared pretos (blacks) and pardos (browns/people of mixed race). While expressing the scale of the problem, the statistics don’t reflect the limitations, oppressions, and invisibility to which the black Brazilian population is subjected – and this approach sometimes reduces this diverse population to the stigmas of poverty and violence.
For structural challenges, multidisciplinary solutions are needed and, above all, that foster the protagonism of the actors involved in the challenge. Diaspora.Black’s response to this challenge combines two strands:
And there is no sector more strategic than tourism for this challenge.
It encompasses the economic activation vector of microentrepreneurs (guides, cultural agents, artisans, service providers, etc.) and has an aspirational consumption profile, with strong dammed demand in the domestic market, especially in (economic) classes C and D.
Moreover, its symbolic strength in building national identity references still neglects the diversity and representativeness in its current products.
“It’s for us to have autonomy
Don’t buy a chain, open a business
It seems like I’m joking
But I’m really calling you to be a partner
Get your brothers out of the mud
Ya moms outta that job
Or you’ll be another black
Who lets your life pass you by?”
This is a marketplace, where various services of tourism are brought together and offered to the community of users registered in the platform, through a transaction intermediation fee. This rate ranges from 10% to 30%, depending on the service and customer profile (B2B or B2C). There are three lines of business: 1) Hosting, shared and commercial; 2) Experiences and tourist itineraries; and 3) Training and certifications for the tourism sector.
Within this scenario, the fact that Diaspora Black managed in just two weeks to raise BRL 600,000 (reais) in a financing campaign promoted by Vox Capital, a company with which it invests in social impact projects. In all, 86 investors came in with at least BRL 1,000 (reais) each.
Diaspora Black organizes visits to quilombos, tours to learn about história negra (black history) in Salvador, São Paulo, among other actions, but its main activity is to connect travelers with hosts who want to rent their property to tourists.
Jessica Silva, manager of the Social Impact area at Vox Capital, explains the success of the campaign and gives tips for those who want to seek this kind of support for their own project.
How do you explain the speed and success of this Diaspora Black campaign?
There were several “first times” involved in this process. It was the first time we made a collective investment, so we didn’t know what the timing would be. We had positive feedback from investors and it was a novelty for us to talk to the public in retail. Talking to those people who could make investments with smaller tickets was very positive.
The level of investor engagement was pretty cool. The investor always has major concerns, but overall the reaction was positive. It was a great desire I had to broaden the spectrum of Vox, especially looking at all racial inequalities.
How important are these investments to negócios de empreendedores negros (businesses of black entrepreneurs)?
It’s important to look at the black community as the protagonist of history and not just as the beneficiary of products and services. For me, this has enormous transformative power and wealth generation. So, I am very interested to see other black entrepreneurs with startups entering this venture capital market, this world of innovation. We’re with doors open, we’re looking for products and services that have a technology component to solve social problems and reduce inequalities. We look at the Health, Education and Financial Education sector.
What should an entrepreneur who wants to partner with Vox to capitalize on investments do?
For us it is important that they have an existing and validated product or service. It has to have a sales history, the track record, which we call. In Diaspora’s case, they already had numbers, they were already operating.
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With information from Mundo Negro and Movimento Black Money