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Local News

By Jamaica Ponder

/ CBS Chicago

BLAPP connects consumers to Black-owned businesses

BLAPP connects consumers to Black-owned businesses 03:10

CHICAGO (CBS) – In honor of Black History Month, we’re taking a closer look at an app that connects people to black-owned businesses in real-time.

“If you want to help the black community, the answer is in where you buy lunch tomorrow, it’s in your bakeries where you buy wine,” said Jon Laster.

Laster is not an economist by trade.

“My day job is I’m a standup comedian, but I was actually an econ major in college, studying the circulation of the Black dollar,” he said.

He believes rerouting that circulation is one of the first steps in helping Black communities to build generational wealth.

“The average person in America spends a little less than 2% of their income on black-owned businesses,” Laster said. “If we can get that to 5%, 10%, the wealth gap would go crashing down. The problem is people want it to be made easy.”

That’s where his new app, “BLAAP,” comes in.

“It’s very difficult to, one by one, find black-owned businesses, and that’s what we’ve done with BLAAP is making it easy, putting all these businesses in one place,” he said.

Based on your geolocation, the app aggregates and categorizes all black-owned businesses nearby, with the blue dot representing your current location.

It’s programmed to be constantly scraping the internet for new businesses to add, which means it’s updated daily and works just about anywhere in the world.

Laster says you can find places from restaurants to nail salons to clothing stores around you.

“I thought BLAAP was something we needed,” he said.

He’s not alone. In the year they’ve been promoting BLAAP, over 75,000 people have tapped in and begun using the app.

“We expect to be ten times that, though by the end of the year,” Laster said.

He hopes that with more downloads, more black entrepreneurs see money making its way from our pockets to their businesses.

“I have found that people are so willing to help because they’re very aware of the racial wealth gap and they want to do something,” Laster said. “How do we get the money back together? It’s in your pocket. It’s at your lunch, your dinner table. That’s how we solve the problem, and it’s the only way that the problem is going to be solved.”

There are tens of thousands of businesses on BLAPP, and their database is kept up to date with the help of user feedback and reviews. If you don’t see your favorite black-owned business on there, the app has a feature where you can submit new spots to be added to the map.

BLAPP is available on both the App Store and Google Play. 

    In:

  • Chicago
  • Black History Month

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