MilSpouse Creates Apps to Support Black Businesses

woman holding phone with app displayed
The Black Wallet owner Jasmine Grant displaying her app. (Courtesy Photo)

When Navy wife Jasmine Grant found herself trying to locate a job while raising two small kids amid the constant throes of military life, she did what many military spouses do: She started her own business.

She started as a web designer, and now she sets up systems for other entrepreneurs. One of her many talents is building apps.

"In 2016, I thought, 'How do I buy a T-shirt from a black-owned store?' and decided I wanted an app," Grant said. "But they cost a lot of money to develop, so I taught myself how to do it and, in 2017, I published The Black Wallet."

Grant explains that The Black Wallet exists to promote, educate and inspire black-owned businesses, their owners and the black community as a whole. "We offer an online directory, mobile app, business services and education courses to empower every member of our tribe with the knowledge and tools for success," she said.

Available for iPhone and Android, The Black Wallet app makes finding black-owned businesses easy. You can search in the app in two ways. The first is by clicking local businesses and then swiping to the category, like food, that you need. The other is by searching for a keyword.

screenshot of app
(Courtesy Photo)

Grant explained that if you are looking for something, say oranges, you would search "oranges," and any business with orange in its name or description would show up. She encourages very detailed descriptions, so this keyword search function works well.

As a bonus, when you shop at one of the businesses listed in the app and use the "form" section to submit your name, email and a picture of your receipt, you are entered to win a weekly giveaway. In celebration of Juneteenth, Grant and The Black Wallet will be giving away something every hour for those who support black-owned businesses.

But the app isn't all that's going on at The Black Wallet. Grant publishes articles that highlight businesses and shares tips for entrepreneurs that she's gathered from years of experience working with and for these business owners.

Each holiday season, Grant pulls all of the sales from black-owned businesses and aggregates them on her site, The Black Sale. This gives shoppers easy access to all the things that are flooding their email, she said.

But this year, she is making a change.

"This year, I'm letting businesses add video, and I'll play them in sequence -- like a channel. Viewers will get to watch people using their products or talking about them instead of just reading about them," Grant explained.

Starting in Fall 2020, Grant will host a podcast that really dives into business owners and how they are challenging their fears. "I want to hear from those who are currently in the grind instead of those who have already overcome," she said.

She said she wants to discuss the fears entrepreneurs have and how they are tackling them to grow or launch a business.

And, speaking of businesses, Grant has one more in the pipeline. It's another app, which is currently in testing, called The Lit Library. Similar to The Black Wallet, this app will be a directory of books written by black authors. Grant plans to reach out to those authors and learn their stories as well.

"It's one thing to provide the information," she said, "but what about the people behind the business, or the books? Let's bring community into this."

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--Rebecca Alwine can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @rebecca_alwine.

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