NOIR founder Carol Cato brings Black Businesses to the forefront as she encourages businesses to buy Black
1. Many congratulations on hosting your first event in support of Black businesses in the UK based on the model of N.A.M.D. a U.S. based organization that has been successfully supporting the “Buy Black” campaign for some 14 years. How important is it for the black community to “Buy Black”?
Extremely important. The “Buy Black” weekender is the first in the UK, it is not only about our community buying black, but the other communities knowing that we are out there and to encourage them to buy from us.
Buying black would help us establish and strengthen a black economy in the UK. This could help reduce unemployment and give black businesses the much needed boost; support and recognition they need to survive and become successful.
2. Noir had its early beginnings initially providing support to businesses on a ‘forum basis’, how has it developed over the years?
We now have over 1000 subscribers, all Black Businesses who have joined LOOKING FOR A BLACK BUSINESS AND CAN’T FIND ONE. They have been able to network, share information, advertise and generate business for themselves. The forum has also increased the confidence of those small businesses or those just starting because they are able to meet other businesses in similar situations.
3. Who is Carol Cato? What skill-set and experience do you bring to Noir?
Carol Cato is a devout Christian, a believer for the past four years. I gave my life to Christ on the same day I walked into Jesus House for the second time. Within six months I joined the Community Action Team Department and became involved with the community and also headed the Homeless Shelter scheme at Jesus House. My passion grew from these projects that I was involved in and I wanted to help my community in every and in any way possible.
A year later I was out shopping in my local high street I purchased my Caribbean food and arrived home and realized that nothing I had purchased had come from a Caribbean business. I put my shopping down, turned on my computer and created a group called “Looking for a Black Owned Business and Can’t Find One”. I then went back out to the high street to find black businesses, and to my surprise I found many, who were hidden away that people didn’t know about. I found black butchers, a travel agent, an insurance company. Of course there were the hairdressers and takeaway stores.
I told them that I had created a group on Facebook and wanted to help to promote their business. I think they thought I was mad, but I took their details and got home and started to promote the, that was about three years ago. The group is a closed group because I wanted to take time to know my members, and not just have people dumping their business on my page. I now have over 3000 followers in the UK and internationally. This number is growing every day. As such I have been involved in several black initiatives such as: Black Cinema Club and Diaspora Debating Association. I am a trained and qualified IT specialist and have been for the past 23 years.
4. We understand that your event aims to promote black businesses and the services that they have to offer to the wider community, how crucial is this?
NOIR will provide the platform, the space and environment needed for Black Businesses to be under one roof for an entire day. The community also has an entire day to meet those Black Businesses and support them by buying their products or offering services that will add value to the existing business. Businesses and the Community will get a chance to listen to experienced and accomplished black professionals sharing information.
5. How can Noir support ‘start-ups’ through their journey to sustainability?
- making our NOIR directory available to all
- continuing to have a strong online presence
- ensuring that those more established Black Businesses
- share their experiences with those ‘Start-ups’
- organising future events
6. We understand that Noir has recently launched its business directory, can you elaborate and tell us how businesses can access this?
Businesses can contact us via:
- Facebook page www.facebook.com/noirinternational
- Twitter @noirinternational
We will discuss the options available and forward the necessary information.
7. In a time of economical challenges, why is it important for black businesses to be in a position to compete with their competitors?
Simple – we will forever be subservient, disadvantaged and poor if we do not.
8. How can businesses outside the ‘black community’ get involved in the “Buy Black” campaign?
Contact us via facebook, call us directly, and access our website, twitter. We will also announce other community outlets where information on the ‘Buy Black’ campaign can be obtained.
9. What can black businesses expect to take away at the event?
- Useful contacts
- Valuable information and advice to assist in the growth and success of businesses
- Products from other businesses
10. Where do you see Noir in 5 years time?
Firmly established and at the forefront in the drive to get a thriving black economy in the UK.Written by Angela
Entrepreneur & CEO at Nubia Ltd
Angela is passionate about social issues impacting communities, she is a social entrepreneur and works within community development, mentoring, training and facilitation. Specialist in communication, public relations, media and journalism.