‘iBuyBlack’ discount card aims to boost African-American entrepreneurship

 Promotional poster for the new 'iBuyBlack' card. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Promotional poster for the new 'iBuyBlack' card. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

A new card is encouraging African-Americans in Philadelphia to keep their money in their community. 

The “iBuyBlack” discount card is part of an effort to encourage more people to shop at African-American-owned stores.  

Publisher Earl Harvey is one of the men behind the discount card.  He said driving more business to black-owned shops will give them capital to expand and thrive.

“We’re hoping they are going to reinvest their money into our community and they are going to hire people that look like us.”

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The most recent Pew Charitable Trusts “State of the City” report said only 2-point-4 percent of businesses in the Philadelphia region are owned by African-Americans.  That number comes from Census data, but Philadelphia Commerce Director Harold Epps disputed that.  He said the city has more black-owned businesses, but many of them are sole-proprietorships and may not show up in the data.

Epps said the city is backing this effort and wanted to help every community in Philadelphia buy from local merchants.

“The Chinese community they do a much better job of aggregating their wealth and cycling in their community.  We are trying to have all our communities do that so that we can have Philadelphia become a  much more competitive city.”

The African American Chamber of Commerce is not involved in the “iBuyBlack” card project and did not return calls seeking comment.

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