Jibril Sulaiman
Jibril Sulaiman, founder of Spendwith (Courtesy photo)

For the first time in over 80 years, everyday working-class citizens now have the unique opportunity to buy shares in new companies.

Taking full advantage of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act established in 2012 by former President Barack Obama, Atlanta-based African-American entrepreneur and web developer Jibril Sulaiman has created Spendwith, the first-ever shopping app for smartphones that makes it easier for minority cultures and demographics to find and support like-minded businesses.

“The purpose of this new app is to make it easy for black consumers to find and support black-owned businesses,” Sulaiman said. “Not only that, but it also supports Latino consumers who are looking to find and support Latino-owned business, LGBT owned businesses, Asian-American, Muslim-owned and and so forth.”

Though the equity crowdfunding was established in 2012, the Title III provision did not officially go into effect until May 2016, leaving few minority-owned companies with the ability to fully take advantage of the new law and thus accept small investments.

“I really wanted to take advantage of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act,” Sulaiman said. “I think it’s important to target spending toward our communities and invest in becoming great entrepreneurs.”

Though the app is already available on iTunes, Sulaiman and his company are looking for funding sources to take the app to the next level with an extended app user base, working capital and future development.

Sulaiman recently launched an app campaign to reach its goal of $500K.

“People want to feel good about targeting their spending to help businesses in their community,” he said. “This is evident by the popular Buy Black movement. But I’ve personally witnessed similar movements in other communities, consequently, the co-founders and I wanted to scale the app in a way that provided the largest impact. Therefore, we created a multi-culture solution and one of a kind business model.

“In no way am I saying that Spendwith will be the next Facebook and in no way can I promise that we will even be successful,” Sulaiman said. “But with experienced founders at the helm of a unique startup, and by using the new law, we give regular working people the chance to make an educated choice on whether or not they’d want to invest in our company early on.

“On various social media outlets including Facebook, I’ve see too many posts about ‘buying black,’ but so little on where actually to go,” he said. “People want to be involved with and spend money on black companies and other demographics and I want to be able to make that possible.”

Lauren M. Poteat

Lauren Poteat is a versatile writer with a strong background in communications and media experience with an additional background in education and development.

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