Black business owners and entrepreneurs are showcasing their work this month at the Buy Black market at UTM, a part of ongoing Black History Month celebrations run by student groups.
The Buy Black market is the only recurring event in Black History Month programming at UTM, running every Thursday except during reading week. The final Buy Black market will be on February 28.
The month-long celebrations aim to empower Black members of the UTM community. Events are co-hosted by the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU), the UTM Black Students’ Collective, the Eastern African Student Association, the UTM African Student’s Association, and the Caribbean Connections UTM student group.
“The Buy Black market was an exceptional time to showcase black identified vendors. We wanted to create a space where business owners had the ability to share their passions and culture with the UTM community,” wrote UTMSU Vice-President Equity Leena Arbaji in an email to The Varsity.
Though the event is open to UTM student vendors, Arbaji said that the organizers “didn’t find any students this time around.” Instead, they contacted vendors via Black Owned Unity, an enterprise that connects “the Black community around the goal of economic development.”
The market is located in the Communication, Culture & Technology (CCT) Building. According to Arabji, this location was a strategic choice, writing that the organizers “purposely placed the market in a building with heavy traffic knowing 100’s of students each hour would interact with the vendors.” Due to its CCT Building location, food vendors are not permitted at the events. Instead, a variety of garment and cosmetics businesses are featured.
One of these business is Kallis Oils, a skincare company that primarily sells body oils. Its founder, Alazar Kafle, told The Varsity that his brand was “really well received. We had a lot of exposure, and people were really interested in our ingredients as well.” He later added that he is “super blessed to have had the chance to promote my initiative about responsible and organic skincare.”
Black History Month celebrations at UTM are wrapping up this week, with a Self-Care & Games Night event on February 25 and a closing ceremony on February 27.