When Khamil Scantling grew uneasy by the injustice done to Black Americans in 2015, she decided to take matters into her own hands.
“I started it because there were several instances of Black people being murdered by either the police or neighborhood vigilantes and nobody was really saying anything from the corporate community,” said Scantling. “With that in mind, I was of the belief that if these companies were not supporting the humanity of Black people, I wouldn’t support them with my dollars.”
Scantling began recruiting the help of friends and family, urging them to gain everyday services from local Black-owned businesses. From there, the change maker launched Cocoapreneur, a two-in-one BOB directory and consultancy for Pittsburgh residents.
With the goal of being a well-balanced tool for all, Cocoapreneur fashions itself as a modern, easy-to-use online platform that can be utilized by anyone interested in goods and services – even the businesses inside the network.
One way that Cocoapreneur has worked to support local BOBs is through financial support. In 2020, the Black-centric network donated time and money to businesses hit hard by COVID-19. Funds are also being collected to help local businesses that were vandalized during Black Lives Matter protests last year.
The focused efforts towards uplifting the Black community in Pittsburgh has served the forum well. What started as a small social media handle has quickly blossomed into a premiere resource for consumers looking to spread their wealth within the Black community.
Cocoapreneur currently houses about 360 Black-owned businesses and counting. Scantling says she wants each entrepreneur to know that their dreams are attainable.
“I’m hoping that they understand that they are not alone in their pursuit for financial freedom and entrepreneurship,” said Scantling. “I want them to know that entrepreneurship is absolutely in their grasp and community can be found in that work.”