Meet Alquincia Selolwane, the entrepreneur behind the first and only Black virtual mall in America. The seasoned entrepreneur has been focused on getting information to her community about business opportunities so as to break the cycle of poverty in her community and enable the community to carve its own path.
Recently, she engineered the first-ever Black virtual mall amidst the coronavirus pandemic, 21 Ninety reports. “The Black Virtual Mall is the future of e-commerce in terms of shopping experiences,” she told Forbes. “The Black Virtual Mall leans into what has historically been very successful with traditional malls, and that is creating a convenience source for shopping; a one-stop shop.”
The Black virtual mall is similar to its brick and mortar counterparts only that it is a commercial digital space equipped with storefronts, a movie theatre, and a food court all populated by Black-owned businesses.
In the food court, companies with delivery accounts can deliver food directly to new patrons when they order via an app. The theatre shows content from digital leases, new music or arts from break-out artists as well as free classes. Selolwane uses the mall to showcase educational e-products.
Selolwane’s journey in the tech space started on social media where she is affectionately called AKAnundrum. Her social media experience came when she was working with the Edible Arrangements franchise and she quickly learned the power of influence and monetization.
“When I first got on Instagram, No one knew what this would be,” Selolwane recalled. “I posted things like my make-up… then I shifted to what was happening to us.”
Since then, she has created various products for her community and the Black virtual mall is the culmination of all of her hard work over the years. For each business that she gets, Selolwane reviews it to ensure quality control, granting leases to businesses she believes will benefit her customer base.
So far, she has received applications from 1300 applicants but only a fraction has been selected to be lessees. And according to 21 Ninety, several criteria have to be met including being at least 50% Black-owned and having a functional website.
Selolwane is hoping to build systems for her business so that when she is no more, the business will not collapse like many other Black-owned firms. According to her, most Black businesses die because they do not put certain structures in place.
“Our white counterparts pass their business(es) down and it continues. They understand the power of systems. The business runs on it on. It runs autonomously. The only issue they have is the person who inherits the business probably should not have inherited it,” Selolwane said.
According to 21 Ninety, the young entrepreneur plans to duplicate her virtual mall; she wants to create one for medical practitioners and another one for legal practitioners.