NYC couple on building a $100 million company that supports Black-owned restaurants 

Abu Mubarik October 31, 2022
Anthony Edwards Jr. and Mariam Braimah. Photo credit: pix11.com.

Anthony Edwards Jr. and Mariam Braimah are the founders of EatOkra, a tech platform they started in 2016 to support Black-owned restaurants. The couple founded the mobile app in Brooklyn in 2016 when they wanted to find and support local Black-owned businesses.

EatOkra made waves in 2018 following the death of George Floyd and had over 3,000 downloads. In June 2020, the app was downloaded by over 150,000 people making it easy for them to find Black-owned restaurants. EatOkra now boasts 15,000 restaurants, five full-time employees and a couple of contractors, according to The City.

Edwards and Braimah met on the dating app Tinder around the time that Donald Trump was elected president. “There was a lot of conversation about social justice, and she said to me why don’t you create an app to help black businesses,” according to Edwards.

Prior to starting EatOkra, Edwards had a stint in the Army before earning a computer science degree at Fordham University, where he was the only Black student in his computer engineering classes, according to The City. To commit fully to EatOkra, Edwards quit his job as a senior software engineer at a company called BuildingBlock.

Braimah, on the other hand, graduated from Harvard and moved to San Francisco to be part of the tech ecosystem as a product designer because at the time there weren’t a lot of product designers who looked like her. She subsequently joined Netflix at the age of 24.

She quit Netflix to become her own boss in 2016. She later founded Kimoyo Insights to help companies figure out the market for their products across Africa. According to The City, she has raised $325,000 so far for Kimoyo, including a $100,000 commitment from Google. Braimah was also behind a boot camp that trained people in Africa to be product designers.

Meanwhile, EatOkra recently undertook a crowd-funding effort to raise $2 million as part of the company’s ultimate vision to raise $100 million in a bid to support Black-owned restaurants by assisting people to plan trips to those restaurants, buy food products from them and take cooking classes, The City reported.

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