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Online marketplace created for Arkansas Black-owned businesses

Shop Black Live is a one-hour, weekly livestream with one main purpose: promoting Black entrepreneurship.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A movement to support Arkansas's Black-owned businesses is getting attention across the nation. 

Founder Benito Lubazibwa said Shop Black Live is a one-hour livestream with one main purpose.

"Our plan is simple, promoting Black entrepreneurship," he said. 

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It's an idea that started just two months ago when Lubazibwa saw a need. 

"One of the challenges Black entrepreneurs are facing is they don't have, right now, a space to promote the products in their businesses," he said. 

According to Lubazibwa, before COVID hit, Black entrepreneurs were already facing tough times and the pandemic just heightened that struggle. 

"The economic system right now is working for a few, it is not working for everybody. Especially, especially our Black community and Black entrepreneurs," he said. 

Wanting to be a beacon of hope and a catalyst for dreamers everywhere, Lubazibwa created Shop Black Live under his organization ReMix Ideas

Every week they host a Facebook live where they feature Black-owned Arkansas businesses, for free, and people can shop for these products directly on their site. Ten percent of the money they make on their website, according to Lubazibwa, they give to Arkansas Baptist College. 

"This is about legacy building, and so that's why it's extremely important to continue to have these conversations, to continue to do this work in whatever form it takes in the future," Host of the "Shop Black Live" show, Leah Patterson, said. 

She said this is not about something in the moment, it's about building generational wealth. 

Which is why, according to Patterson, they are focusing on young entrepreneurs, while not only being a platform for these businesses, but being a resource to help in anything they need. 

"If you have the desire and the want to actually stay focused and stay committed to your dreams, that you're going to have people that are really going to help you see that dream through," she said. 

One dreamer is Ty Jackson, co-founder of Tidy & Ty, who built her kids clothing business two years ago after she adopted her 8-month-old cousin. 

"To my surprise, when I went out and started shopping for a toddler and I started looking the boy section, what I realized was this was the girls section right here and this was the boys section right here," she said. 

When COVID-19 came, Jackson's business, like so many others, began to stall, so she decided to segue Tidy & Ty into a non-profit. 

She now devotes her time to hosting fundraisers and providing new shoes for kids in foster care. 

"Giving back and giving shoes to kids in foster care is more than just a pair of shoes, it's about building self-confidence," Jackson said. 

At the end of the day, Patterson said the Shop Black Live team's goal is to let people, like Jackson, know they care and will always be there.

"When it's no longer popular in the world, we will be continuing to do this work," she said. 

RELATED: UCA graduate gets recognition from Beyoncé for small business

Starting in August, Shop Back Live will be giving a $1,000 grant every month to a Black entrepreneur. 

If you are interested in promoting your products on their show, you can email them at shopblacklive@gmail.com or message them on Facebook.