2 black-owned business owners launch business bingo for Black History Month

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — How well do you know your local, black-owned businesses? Well, two owners are putting you to the test with a black-owned business bingo game this month.

The goal is to visit as many black-owned businesses as you can for prizes.

“It prompts you to go to Yuppi to North Tampa Pharmacy, to Yoggi Empire to different businesses and you just mark it off,” said Kiva Williams, owner of The Fun Food Mama.

She and Karimah Henry, owner of Crafting A Fun Life, created this scavenger hunt to make Black History Month more interactive.

“I thought that it would get people out and support our local black-owned businesses,” Henry said. “They think only restaurants but there’s convenience stores, pharmacies, yonni steam lounges. There’s so many black-owned businesses that people don’t know about so we want to drive traffic to them,” Willaims said.

Black-owned businesses across the nation took a devastating hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, 41% of black businesses closed as a result of the 2020 shutdown. In comparison, 17% of white-owned businesses closed. Research also showed black-owned firms were five times as likely to receive no PPP funding as opposed to white-owned ones.

Mammie Luke, CEO of Yuppi Restaurant, said lack of funding is usually the issue.

“As a small black-owned business, we don’t necessarily have the budget to do Facebook ads or do traditional ads.”

She started her business during the pandemic and depended on word of mouth to draw in customers.

“I do believe we are limited and people do not recognize us even though we have a nice big orange sign in the window that says Yuppi.”

Luke told 8 On Your Side she’s glad to be a part of this year’s bingo game.

“I look forward to participating in more Tampa, local black history events to uplift our community and give our future generation something proud to be a part of.”

It’s not too late to participate in the game. Here is the digital bingo card. You’re also instructed to tag #TAMPABAYBEC, if you post pictures of your visits on Instagram.

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