Boosting Black-Owned Businesses Through Website Launched by St. Louis Activist

    Joe-Jo’s Fish & Chicken on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive is one of many black-owned Businesses in the St. Louis area featured on ForTheCultureSTL.com.

    “We need something like For the Culture STL, where it’s a lot of young businesses and more established businesses,” said Joe-Jo’s Fish & Chicken owner Byron Hayes. “People who may not even know about us, if they subscribe to For the Culture or if they support it, they’ll see us in there. And they’ll hopefully be interested in what we offer and come pay us a visit!”

    St. Louis activist Ohun Ashe created the website.

    “I was heavily active in the Ferguson protests and the Jason Stockley protest,” Ashe explained. “From organizing to media and making the flyers. Once those started dying down, I had this desire to uplift black-owned businesses.”

    Ashe said she was determined to understand her role moving forward. That’s when she envisioned providing the St. Louis community with an online black-owned business directory, launching ForTheCultureSTL.com.  She wanted to provide one place that will link people to black-owned businesses where they live or visit, and it has links for online shopping.

    “We have been seen in every single state, we have been seen in all seven continents,” she explained. “And you have to think this is something specifically for a small demographic of black people in St. Louis, yet the world uses this website.”

    It’s free and Ashe said she doesn’t make money from it.

    “For black folks, we haven’t really had something that is just for us; that people could support.”

    Based on website analytics, Ashe discovered food in the most popular category. It’s growing to the point that restaurants are reaching out to Ashe, asking for their information to be added. Joe-Jo’s Fish and Chicken is one of them.

    “I saw what she was doing and I thought it was an excellent idea,” said Hayes.

    Hayes said he didn’t hesitate to reach out to Ashe, because he knows first-hand how important it is to help one another. Hayes is the founder of Moving Upward, movingupward-stl.org, a non-profit designed to provide housing for homeless veterans. Moving Upward also provides Hoopn’ For Hearts, a wellness initiative and basketball league in St. Louis for men.

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