Intentionalist’s own Laura Clise joined former Seattle Seahawk Doug Baldwin and Boon Boona founder Efrem Fesaha on Seattle University’s stage last week for United Way’s Advancing Racial Equity event. The panel, facilitated by United Way’s Liahann Bannerman, focused on the importance of supporting BIPOC-owned businesses, and Laura kicked off the evening by introducing herself with a rhyme she created:

There’s a gap between intention,

Our desire to do good,

And our ease of then acting, though we want to and should.

Intentionalist is a platform, a resource, a guide,

Shop small, buy local: our values applied.

Owned by women, minorities, vets, LGBTQ,

Get to know the small businesses that are counting on you,

So buy what you need, support economic inclusion.

You gotta vote with your wallet,

Let there be no confusion.

Cause community is the game,

And we are all batters.

Step up to the plate,

It’s time to Spend Like It Matters. 

The crowd engaged with a clap-snap-combo that set the perfect background beat to Laura’s rhyme. The conversation continued with Efrem’s story of the struggle to secure financing for Boon Boona in the beginning. Banks that claimed to be advocates for his community were less interested in his focus on equitable trade and woman-owned growers, and more interested in how quickly he could move customers to compete with large coffee chains. 

Despite the challenges Efrem faced, Boon Boona is booming. His collaborations with other businesses have raised funds to give back to the community and the space is a popular spot for people from all walks of life to come together. 

Doug followed up with a powerful call to action to be intentional about opening doors and connections for Black business owners:

“If you’re the gatekeeper to funds and access to capital, you have to open those doors. That may mean you don’t get the return on investment that you’re hoping for or traditionally thinking of because that’s not how we got here.” He then discussed the importance of investing in the human being behind the idea, the person whose idea will increase the wealth of their community as well as their family. When investors focus their resources and networks on supporting the people behind the idea, not just on return on investment, true transformation can happen. 

Additionally, we all play a role in advancing equity. Every big decision about where we eat, drink, and shop is an opportunity to put our collective thumb on the scales of economic justice. 

Here are 3 easy ways to get started today:

  1. Share where you #SpendLikeItMatters during Black History Month, tag Intentionalist, and we’ll help amplify your support.
  2. Write a recommendation for a Black-owned business you love on Intentionalist
  3. Ask a Black business owner how you can help them get the word out!

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