Taking inspiration for “Google My Business,” we wanted to create ONE location where people could find relevant information about local Black-owned businesses AND where Black business owners could claim their business listings, update their own business info, include contact information, receive reviews, sell products, directly communicate with customers and even take reservations for their restaurants, regardless of whether or not they had a website themselves.
The directory name itself holds a lot of meaning: The Yoruba are one of the largest African ethnic groups – descendants from a variety of West African communities. They are, in fact, not a single group, but rather a collection of diverse people bound together by a common language, history, and culture. When starting this project, we wanted to turn to the Black community itself for a name that really identified what the intent of the directory was, and found that in Yoruba. The Yoruba were a diverse group of people, but with so much in common. They were scattered all over the world and forced to detach from their culture, but they were still able to maintain a core piece of who they were, and they survived. We still face that today, where we have a solid foundation of who we are as a community and are still able to support each other despite diverse backgrounds…we have a common history, and together, we survive.
In the spring of 2020, we found that social media was saturated with the desire to support Black-owned businesses, but that most local resources were either outdated or not as inclusive as they could be. Ultimately, the vision was to create a way for business owners to increase their exposure on the web completely free of charge. The demand has been so great that we had over 200 local Black-owned businesses to list starting out, all created and uploaded to the site through the use of volunteers and a lot of heart.
Having an online presence can make or break a business, especially for small business owners. However, many small businesses don’t have a ton of resources or a lot of time to spend building an online presence. The goal of Yoruba is now to provide free professional web design services for local Black-owned businesses and to help them build a professional online web presence.
Having a professional web presence will give these businesses:
- Credibility: When you can point customers, partners, even potential employees or investors to a website, it tells them you are a serious business.
- Visibility: With more and more consumers logging onto the Web to research products and services, if they are going to find your business, your business needs to be on the Web.
- Reach: With a website, you are no longer limited to a customer base that is in physical proximity to your shop.
- Competition: A professional looking website can level the playing field for smaller companies trying to compete against larger ones. It’s also a way to stay in the game; even if people can’t find you on the Web chances are they can find your competitors.
The History Behind The Yoruba People
The Yoruba are one of the largest African ethnic groups – descendants from a variety of West African communities. They are, in fact, not a single group, but rather a collection of diverse people bound together by a common language, history, and culture.
During the period of African Slavery, from the late 1500’s to the late 1800’s, millions of Yoruba people were forcibly taken out of Africa. Their numbers dwindled and so did their land area. After Slavery, the European powers, such as: the British; French; Dutch; Spanish and Portuguese, divided the continent of Africa and imposed new countries and languages in Africa.
The Yoruba people suffered greatly and were divided. Their people were scattered all over the Americas – speaking different languages, such as: Spanish, English, Dutch, French, and Portuguese.
Yoruba Culture in the Americas
During the period of African slavery, millions of African people including the Yoruba, were forcibly brought to the Americas. The Yoruba and many other African people worked as slaves on the plantations of different European nations:
- The Spanish plantations in South America, Central America, Cuba, Hispaniola.
- The British plantations in the English speaking Caribbean.
- The American plantations in the American South.
- The Dutch plantations in the Dutch Caribbean and South America.
- The French plantations in the Caribbean, including Haiti.
As slaves, the Yoruba people were no longer free. They were not allowed to practice their religion, play their instruments, which was integral to their worship, or engage in any other religious Yoruba practices. They were forced into European religions.
Far away from home, the Yoruba had only themselves and what was in their hearts, their religion, their God.
Yoruba civilization has had a significant impact on the culture and make up of Latin America, in particular, Cuba, Haiti, Brazil, Trinidad and Puerto Rico. Most of the Yoruba in today’s America, originated from what is today’s Nigeria, Benin and Togo.