Why did you start Afrolift?

“After George Floyd, I was thinking about what I could do personally. I work in tech in a commercial manager role, so I understand business and strategy. I wanted to create something that I had been looking for. Around June 2020 on social media, among my friends and family, there was a feeling of: ‘How can we help black-owned businesses amid the structural inequalities that exist in UK society today? How can we try and support?’ My objective was to create something free, sustainable and useful that had all of the Black-owned businesses in one place, in an easily searchable way. Also, to build my own technical skills and personal development.

Afrolift is a side hustle [Oduro works for NatWest MentorDigital] that my wife helped me with. We had a spreadsheet and would add businesses as we found them. The USP I decided to go for was to be the biggest. My immediate next step is to add a premium service that businesses can opt in and pay for; my longer-term ambition is about trying to connect businesses. If a brand is looking for Black-owned suppliers, or talent, Afrolift could be the place to connect them.”

What would you like to see more of from organisations to genuinely address racism?

“I’d like to see organisations do some critical thinking about what they could do to fight against racism. Institutional changes that are permanent – for example, if an organisation changed their lending policy in a way that could demonstrate improved outcomes for disadvantaged minority groups.

My objective was to create something free, sustainable and useful that had all of the black businesses in one place, in an easily searchable way

“On a broader scale, I’d like to see people educate themselves more on the history of the African Diaspora. I’m planning to read Black And British by David Olusoga, which is the history of the long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa and the Caribbean. I think certain parts of history are highlighted, and there are other parts that the UK tries to forget. Finally, just more awareness of the huge amount of talent and incredible businesses out there that are Black owned would be great. One of the most rewarding things for me is realising how many amazing Black businesses are out there, so anything I can do to shine a light on them, or make connections, I will do.”

How did the death of George Floyd affect what you do and how are you reflecting on progress one year on?

“The positive thing is that it triggered deep reflection. I’m seeking to find out more. The more I’ve learned, the more I’ve wanted to go a bit deeper. I would implore people who are interested: please do educate yourself on the history – not just the UK but that’s maybe a good place to start. The more I’ve learned about the impact of the slave trade on places like London, Bristol, Liverpool, and Scotland, the more the knock-on effects we see in society today start to make sense to me. What I want to do is plant the seed in people’s minds to go and look at the history.”

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