ASEC student draws on education to support Black-owned businesses

By: Emma Ea Ambrose

July 22, 2020

As the nation has been gripped by activism surrounding the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement, Sohinee Bera identified the need to organize a critical resource for the Greater Lafayette Community: a guide to Black-owned local businesses.

Bera, a senior in Agricultural Sciences and Communication (ASEC), said that while many community members have requested a list of these businesses, there was no obvious way to find such a directory. Using skills gained from her time in ASEC, Bera explained she decided to pursue the goal on her own through building an online guide. To date, she has added over 60 businesses to the guide and is continuing to add more.

“I just started by asking people through my Instagram account,” Bera explained. “From that, I got five or six names of business owners and then those owners gave me other names and suddenly I’d compiled a list of 30 plus businesses.”

Bera said she drew on a range of soft skills gained through her coursework, from conducting interviews to using a variety of writing styles, to assemble the Guide to Black Lafayette, which offers a directory of local, Black-owned businesses and services.

Sohinee Bera. Photo by Tom Campbell.
Sohinee Bera. Photo by Tom Campbell.

“The response from this project has been overwhelmingly positive,” Bera continued. “I did everything myself from collecting the data to building the website, so it’s been especially gratifying to hear people appreciate the work.”

Bera is especially pleased to hear that Black business owners in the Greater Lafayette area have seen an uptick in their business since she published the guide. Viewing the resource as a living document, Bera will continue to grow the list and hopes that it survives even after she leaves the area.

“The Black Cultural Center on campus plans to host the guide on their site and I hope other organizations will follow,” Bera continued. “I hope that five years down the line when people go to look for the guide they can find it.”

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