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This 26-yr-old is poised to open a black-owned supermarket chain that will sell black-owned products

March 07, 2019 at 11:00 am | Money Moves

Ismail Akwei

Ismail Akwei | Head of Content

March 07, 2019 at 11:00 am | Money Moves

Shareef Abdul-Malik - WeBuyBlack

$1.2 million is all that the 26-year-old Atlanta-based entrepreneur, Shareef Abdul-Malik, needs to open America’s first black-owned supermarket chain that will sell black-owned products sourced directly from black farmers and entrepreneurs.

By March 17, 2019, this dream will be suspended if the funds are not raised as Shareef has secured a contract to purchase a 20,000 sq.ft. building to use for the flagship supermarket chain, Soul Food Market, in Atlanta.

Soul Food Market will be one of the many entreprises launched by Shareef including WeBuyBlack.com, the largest online marketplace for black-owned businesses which he founded in 2015; Coral Oral, the first black-owned toothbrush company he launched in 2017; and Tubman Batteries, the first black-owned battery company he launched in 2018.

“Having a successful supermarket where all the products sold are from our community will quickly change the perception in our community that we are not farmers, producers, and manufacturers,” he noted in his crowdfunding campaign for $1.2 million to establish Soul Food Market.

“I want all of us to feel comfortable shopping and to know that Soul Food Market is our community’s store. And that the interest of the store, is the interest of the movement that produced the store, We Buy Black.

“We all will continue to feel victimized until we do for our self. Therefore, give something toward this campaign, whatever you can, and let’s control the second largest household expense, our groceries,” he explained.

The $1.2 million will go into paying off the building ($425,000), renovating the building ($780,000), operating the business ($1,030,000) and duplicating the business ($1,200,000), he indicated.

The risks faced by Shareef include the loss of $5,000 if $425,000 isn’t raised within 20 days in order to close on the property. “On the bright side, however, we are very confident we will hit this goal, especially if everyone reading this stops what they are doing and give a generous donation! Anything and everything counts! Thank you!!!” he appealed.

Shareef Abdul-Malik is a native of Southeast Washington, DC, who graduated from Howard University in 2014 with a B.A. in Sociology and Community Development. He currently teaches Youth Entrepreneurship at his Alma Mater, W.D. Mohammed High School in Atlanta and serves on the school’s governing board.

The husband and father of two explained the benefits of the planned supermarket which include becoming one of the largest distributors of black-owned products, creating opportunities for the community by hiring and training the youth to have a passion for healthy living.

“Help redirect the 1 trillion dollars spent outside our community each year, and to establish one of the most essential parts to any community, a grocery store… Become an institution large enough to help secure a future for our community’s generations to come,” he added.

He detailed a story that influenced his decision to start the supermarket chain to change perceptions about black communities.

Over that past few years, I’ve been advising people not to protest restaurants, grocery stores, air lines, etc. Instead, I’ll suggest that we use that energy to simply produce our own. I would often find myself telling individuals, “well, I’ll support the protest, but you shouldn’t have been there.” This line kept appearing in my conversations, “We shouldn’t have been there.” Recently, my wife and daughter were in the Dekalb Farmer’s Market here in Georgia and a tall white man moved her cart without saying excuse me. Of course I wasn’t there! However my wife said, “the word is excuse me.” He rudely responded “no, you shouldn’t have been in my way.” His wife jumped in the conversation an aggressively yelled “you’re a bad person.” His wife kept repeating this. I couldn’t help but feel she meant “You’re a nigger.” When I got the news, I was up all night. I couldn’t sleep, bothered by my wife’s encounter. The next day, I met with the owners of True Laundry Detergent, a Black owned detergent company. After hearing the story, they waited…then said…”Well, she shouldn’t have been there.” This was a wakeup call that we will never feel or be free as a people until we start taking control of our environment. It will take risk and courage, however it must be done.

Watch this video of Shareef Abdul-Malik engaging his community on the supermarket dream.

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