It's been a year since DJ Swiss decided to take a stance against the economic imbalance across the country. Best known from award-winning group, So Solid Crew, Swiss, launched Black Pound Day (BPD) on the 27th of June.
Swiss founded the movement as a solution-based approach to conquer the inequality Black entrepreneurs face daily. Black businesses provide between £25-32 billion to the UK economy annually, yet they still face day to day battles with economic injustice. Following the anti-racism protests in 2020, Swiss decided now was the time to manufacture long-lasting change.
Occurring on the first Saturday of every month, the day motivates consumers to replace their everyday purchases with products sold from Black-owned businesses in the hope to make sustainable change. BPD is a day for everyone to come together to support and strengthen the Black community.
The website has over 1,500 businesses, all listed under one roof, making it highly accessible to thousands of possible consumers. The first BPD generated £61,940 in revenue calculated by customers sharing their receipts for the day.
BPD encourages Black entrepreneurs to sign up to the directory where they can be discovered on a large established platform. Since the launch of BPD, there have been several new Black-owned businesses open. The day also exposes consumers to up-and-coming Black entrepreneurs across the country.
The most extensive impact from BPD derives from people sharing and promoting online. If you are unable to spend on the day, you can promote and share across social media platforms. The overall aim is to encourage change and to incorporate supporting Black-owned businesses into your daily life.
Social media has the power to raise awareness and promote change which is why it is essential to use the appropriate BPD hashtag (#BlackPoundDay). So far, BPD has over 38k+ followers, and the more people share and advocate, the more change the movement can accomplish.
Google is partnered with BPD and works exclusively with the movement to push the UK to support Black entrepreneurs. They offer free listings, 1-1 mentoring and live training to assist however you may need.
BPD has also worked closely alongside Soho house for the past year. The company offer complimentary Soho works memberships as well as helping with social exposure and working 1-1 with businesses to assist them in growing. Soho house has a global outreach that brings consumers from across the world to explore the BPD directory. The partnership is a good combination as they both send a diverse flow of traffic to eachother. They also have the resources to connect with other entrepreneurs, which will enable them to expand their network.
The movement has seen Mel Barret (leader of Birmingham city council) and Ian Ward (chief executive Nottingham council). The importance of local councils supporting BPD and talking on the subject will help raise the profile of local Black businesses and support the local economy.
Interview with founder Swiss
Sublime: How important is BPD, and what does it mean to you?
Swiss: BPD means we have a day once a month where we can pour into our community positively and emotionally. After the anti-racism marches, we were in a negative space, and we wanted to transition that energy into something more positive and sustainable. It means the world to me as my community can utilise the brand and movement. When the fists come out of the air, we can give back to the community in other ways.
BPD means a lot to me because I allow myself to lead the movement and hold myself accountable in many ways. I can transition from one space to another. It's been mentally and emotionally challenging but in a positive way. Seeing the positive effects BPD has is a huge morale booster.
S: What is your biggest accomplishment for BPD so far?
It is hard to choose just one but partnering with Google was extremely big and a goal for the year. Our community have also benefited from the Google partnership from the online tools and materials available.
Another huge accomplishment is being able to impact our business community positively. BPD has meant businesses have been able to expand, and sales have increased.
S: How important is social media to the growth of BPD?
Swiss: Social media has been exponentially important because I launched BPD on Instagram on the 6th of June 2020. Since that date, it has spread like wildfire. I felt like we needed something stronger than what we had already seen, so when I announced BPD, everyone fled to it because they saw it as an opportunity to make positive change.
I created a sustainable approach by making the first Saturday of every month dedicated to supporting Black-owned businesses- this was a systematic approach. It consisted of a forward motion to be able to create sustainable change. It was essential to have something which wasn't just a one-off. I feel that BPD has accomplished turning political protesters into socio-economic agents.
S: Besides shopping at Black-owned businesses, what else can people do to help?
Swiss: I use a model which explains five different ways you can support a Black business. The acronym is called SPLAT: spend, promote, leave a review, advocate, and tell a friend. Suppose you are unable to spend on the day. In that case, you can promote a Black-owned business by researching and talking to people – word of mouth is always the best promotion. Leaving a Google review will help push the company. It gives you a connection to someone else who has sampled the business previously.
S: What do you want BPD to achieve over the next year?
I feel very optimistic about the following year for BPD. I want to make the 27th of June a national holiday to represent BPD.
It would give a lot back to the generation of where I am from – third-generation Windrush. When my community came over to England from the Caribbean, the British economy struggled due to the war. Our community helped to rebuild the economy of the country. I feel that we don't get the credit we deserve, but I think that BPD is a way to help honour our Windrush generation.
When we launched BPD on the 27th of June, we celebrated 72 years of independence. As well as this, June was the same month when the Windrush empire came over to Tilbury, Essex. So, a national holiday makes sense in my eyes.
About the Writer
Emily Bowles is a young fashion journalist with a passion for social and environmental issues. She likes to explore the culture surrounding sustainable lifestyle, especially ethical fashion. She is currently studying final year at Southampton Solent University.