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New App Helps People Find Businesses Owned By Black People

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CBS13) – Minority-owned businesses are looking for a boost in new shoppers this holiday season and they're hoping a new mobile platform will help them do just that.

"Any black own business can go on there and they can sign up to have their business listed so they can gain more exposure," said Mandy Bowman, CEO of Official Black Wall Street.

It's called the "Official Black Wall Street" app and it's aimed to help promote black entrepreneurs. Business owners can list their shop's location and description. Then, shoppers can search by category to find nearby businesses. The app then alerts you when you're near a black-owned business.

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"I immediately signed up," said Miasha Helton, who just downloaded the app. "I think everyone should jump on board."

Helton owns It's My Hair Salon in Sacramento. Using the app, she's hopeful new clients will be able to find her business.

"We like to stay visible on those social networks and get people in, plus the best advertisement is word of mouth," she said.

"The chamber has been trying to that in our own local area for the last two years and it's almost as bad as pulling teeth," said Azizza Davis Goines, President of the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce.

Why? She told CBS 13 many small local businesses don't understand the value of reaching out to shoppers on a digital platform. But in the long run, that only hurts their sales.

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"And so, they tend to not be in business very long," Goines said. "You really do have to make an investment in that business, in order to make money."

Bowman, who came up with the idea for the app, told CBS 13 it's overdue in the black community.

"Stacked up against other entrepreneurs, black businesses fall behind," she said.

Financial advisor Brooke Stephens, author of "Talking Dollars and Making Sense: A Wealth Building Guide for African-Americans," took a look at the amount of time money circulates in minority communities:

• 28 Days in the Asian community
• 19 Days in the Jewish community
• 6 Hours in the Black community

"It's just a matter of presenting them those facts and just saying 'you know, this is something that is necessary for our community just to level the playing field,'" Bowman explained.

"You don't know all the black businesses that are in our community at all so by having an app to see who's out there and see what they're selling, that's amazing," said shopper Stacy Nicholas.

From restaurants to dental offices, shoppers can find a range of businesses on the app. Businesses can sign up for free, but have the option of choosing from different subscription levels. As more businesses register, Bowman looks forward to shoppers having more options and the app becoming an even better resource.

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