Bajan Blackout Day was an event in which consumers were encouraged to spend their money with Black businesses in Barbados in order to use economic power to counter economic disparity. Black consumers in Barbados account for an estimated 95% of the economic spending or economic power. Circulating Black dollars and doing business with each other is critical to the generation of financial and economic strength within this major segment of Barbados’ economy. On July 7, 2020, the ‘ask’ was that if you must spend a dollar, spend it with Black-owned businesses only. Leading up to Bajan Blackout, there was a seven-day forum aimed at educating and promoting Black-owned businesses as well as getting input from consumers and all stakeholders.
Analytics garnered from Blackflip.co, an online directory for black-owned businesses operating in over 30 Industries and the Black Businesses in Barbados Facebook group indicate that a major outcome was the engagement of over 1,000 Black businesses operating within a broad cross section of industry in Barbados from automotive sales & services, restaurants, farming, hospitality, beauty & fashion to technological and environmental services.
Blackflip.co reported that almost 600 unique visitors amassed over 2,800 views on the website on July 7th alone. Engagement recorded on the Black Businesses in Barbados Facebook Group (created recently on June 30th) generated membership close to 1,200 and reported a high volume of conversation in the form of sharing of business information and word of mouth marketing especially on Blackout Day.
The event has triggered an awareness of goods and services available from within the Black community. Visitors to both the Blackflip.co website and the Black Businesses in Barbados group were from Barbados, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Business traction was experienced by Black entrepreneurs who have reported a high level of customer response including from outside Barbados. The hope is that these ‘leads’ translate into profitability after the Day.
One of the stated objectives of the event was to encourage Black-owned businesses to raise their level of efficiency and effectiveness. During the 7-day forum, Black entrepreneurs were invited to leverage the Bajan Blackout Day to counter the criticism of poor service quality. Entrepreneurs have acknowledged this deficiency and feedback from customers has in the most part indicated a high standard of service excellence. Entrepreneurs have however also identified the need for consumers to unlearn the perception that Black products and services equate ‘discounted, cheaper or free”.
Concepts such as Bajan Blackout Day help to counter the association of the label “Black” with the intention to denigrate, disparage, demean and depreciate the value of Black people. While the use of the label ‘Black‘ as in ‘Black‘ teenage pregnancies, ‘Black‘ drug users and ‘Black‘ poverty does not evoke opposition or accusation, the label is now being strategically associated (as in the case of Bajan Blackout Day) with positive action such as the expression of economic empowerment and wealth creation of Black people.
The Bajan Blackout Day is part of an international movement that originated in the U.S.A. and that has crossed geographical boundaries. The relevance and validity of Black economic empowerment has been reflected in the international uptake of the Blackout Day idea across the globe. Hosting the event here in Barbados represents the adoption of a best practice initiative which has been tailored to be compatible with local expression. In summary, the Bajan Blackout Day has raised awareness, provided marketing mileage and traction for the disenfranchised segment of Barbados’ entrepreneurs.