Green Book of Tampa Bay creators Joshua Bean and Hillary Van Dyke
By J.A. Jones, Staff Writer
TAMPA BAY — Green Book of Tampa Bay (GBTB) is an online resource that offers its readers information on black-owned businesses, entrepreneurs, artists, and cultural experiences created out of the African-American/African diasporic perspective, in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
Created by Joshua Bean and Hillary Van Dyke, two educators who met at Azalea Middle School, the site was started in 2018 to help readers gain insight into locations where they could spend their dollars with black retailers – resulting in greater black economic stability.
Recently the platform has been upgraded, and as COVID-19 recovery plans are on every businessperson’s to-do list, GBTB is hoping the resource will offer more people ways to “buy black.”
Van Dyke explained, “Through some community contacts, namely Veatrice Farrell of the Deuces Live, Gypsy Gallardo of One Community reached out to us, because part of the work that #InThisTogether wanted to do was create a directory of Black-owned businesses.”
Since GBTB already had a database, One Community offered to help create a more user-friendly experience.
“One Community partnered us with a web developer, and now the site works more like the Yellow Pages or Yelp,” Van Dyke acknowledged.
Bean noted, “Before, our listings were very basic with no visual component (service name, link to website/social media, phone number and address). Now listings are full of pictures, business logos, hours of operation, menu prices, etc. This is so much more comprehensive — and I absolutely love it.”
Anyone can add a listing for a black-owned business; Bean encouraged visitors to the site to help them increase the number of listings. “If you know of a black-owned business, search for it on greenbooktb.org — if it’s not there, add the listing.”
Business owners who visit the site can also search for and claim their own listing, edit, and update what is currently there.
Jonny Moon, St Pete, CEO of Astute Observations, a multimedia business specializing in business products including graphic design, audio and visual needs, and marketing tools, is enthusiastic about the site.
“Hillary and Josh requested that the raised fist be a part of the Green Book logo, so I had fun coming up with a clever way to tie the raised fist in with the Green Book’s name,” shared Moon.
Noting that GBTB is a “one-stop source for finding professionals in your community — but allows you to diversify your support,” Moon added that GBTB has already helped Astute Observations increase clientele. (To find out more, you can reach Astute Observations at 727-308-1020 or email@example.com.)
Delvin Kariuki, Tampa, CEO of Kwamboka Kariuki, an online retail business that partners with women in Kenya to sell fashion and accessories, said, “The benefit is to have a directory for black-owned business — I don’t know anything like it for just black-owned businesses. On Google and Yelp, you get lost in the mix of big businesses.”
Kariuki said since listing on GBTB, the business has received more traffic to its social media and website — which in turn increases sales.
Van Dyke and Bean started GBTB with a mission to change the game for black businesses and communities in Tampa Bay. Van Dyke noted that “systemic inequity reaches ALL aspects of life for black folks — including in the business sectors. There are inequities in who owns brick-and-mortar stores, has smaller workforces.”
Bean offered, “Our website has changed, but our overall mission hasn’t. We want equity in the black community. We want to build economic vitality in the black community. We want all black people to thrive! In order to do that, we want to see not only black dollars circulating in the black community — we want to see everyone’s dollars circulating in the black community. #GreenBookTB — Helping you put your green into Black!”
To reach J.A. Jones, email firstname.lastname@example.org.