PITTSBURGH - As the saying goes – see a need, fill a need. That’s the motivation behind Khamil Scantling’s directory called CocoaPreneur.
“People asking me for specific businesses, 'Do you know a restaurant?' or, 'Do you know where I can host an event' and I thought, 'Okay, I'm getting tired of answering these things on call,'” Scantling said. “Maybe I need to create something where people can have the same information I have and just share the wealth”
The New Jersey native moved to Western Pennsylvania to attend the University of Pittsburgh and found herself wondering where all the black-owned businesses were located.
“I decided that any black business that I came across, I would share, and it kind of grew and I needed a place to house all of the businesses I found. Social media wasn't enough. I decided to start the directory,” Scantling said.
It became what’s now called CocoaPreneur.com. But having access to these businesses has a deeper meaning for Scantling.
“The initial idea came about when there was a lot of visuals of murders of black people,” she said. “It was almost a way of deciding that maybe we can't find people to treat us well in our own communities we'll build our own communities and maybe they can sustain themselves and we can take care of ourselves.”
Claudy Pierre is proud to be one of the 191 businesses listed on CocoaPreneur.com. He owns Arnold’s Tea along Ohio Street in Pittsburgh’s North Side.
“This has been one of the monumental parts of Pittsburgh. There's multiple directories in Pittsburgh but none of them are in an app form. They are still yellow pages style. That's not going to cut it,” Pierre said. “This is what we need. We're not about to open a book and search for businesses”.
Pierre is a Brooklyn native and said that it was a culture shock for him when he came to Western Pennsylvania.
“The City of Pittsburgh is very black and white. Me being Haitian, very Brooklyn, lived in Jersey, any one coming to University, anyone coming to school here in Pittsburgh, we are like, 'whoa!'” said Pierre.
“When we needed our hair done, needed a barbershop, we had a guy. This is almost like the guide to your guy.”
Pierre hopes the directory could promote more people of color to work with each other.
“We're going to click on the app, go to the website and we're going to say ‘Photography in my hood’ and guess what? We're going to hire each other, we're going to give discounts to each other. We're going to work with each other because of this directory. It centralizes it.”
And if you’re wondering how the directory got it’s name, Scantling said it’s simple.
“It was just a cutesy way of putting together something ‘brown’ for brown people and entrepreneurship [together]. So it was ‘cocoa’ and ‘entrepreneur’ so it became “CocoaPreneur!”
You can check out the website here: https://cocoapreneur.com/
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