Last year, Evanston Police Officer Tosha Wilson and her cousin, Jacqui White, also a police officer, were turned down for a loan after the bank deemed they did not have enough experience to open a cafe/laundromat. Both women are police officers with solid employment track records, so they were understandably discouraged.
“It’s frustrating – we both have good jobs, we have a solid business plan, and we just need some capital to get our business off the ground,” said Officer Wilson. “Then it hit me – this is how things have been for generations in the Black community. I knew we could help, so I launched our Facebook group – Boosting Black Business – in July.”
The premise of the Facebook Group is simple: everyone who joins is encouraged to donate $20 each month to support a local Black business. In July, the boost went to ChiFresh Kitchen, a food service co-op founded and run by a group of formerly incarcerated residents. Within three weeks, they reached their goal of $20,000 through the group.
In August, National Black Business Month, with the support and encouragement from her friends, she turend the spotlight on her own business dreams – The Laundry Cafe – which they hope to open by 2022. It will be a place where people in the community can come together, do their laundry and enjoy a nice tea and great conversation. Similar concepts have recently taken off in Europe and on the east and west coasts.
“I wasn’t sure I wanted to spotlight our business quite yet because I didn’t want to come across as self-serving,” Officer Wilson said. “But my friends let me have it – not in the nicest way, but definitely with love. In our community, if we don’t advocate for ourselves, who will?”