The KScope is a digital marketing and e-commerce platform designed to connect shoppers to the best African food and fashion businesses. Due to systemic racism, black-owned companies often do not have the same access as their white counterparts to marketing tools to attract their niche.
While Toronto prides itself in being a multicultural city, people in the surrounding regions may not know about food and fashion brands of diverse cultures. Yvonne Ben, a Lead Curator of The KScope, is committed to providing African-owned businesses a visible platform to market their brand and attract their target customers. Yvonne recognized the need for this platform when attending Laurentian University in 2009.
“At the time, there were no African businesses in Sudbury. Anyone who wanted to buy African or Nigerian cuisine had to drive to Toronto to get it, which is quite alarming. I took it upon myself to create a platform to highlight these businesses through a blog on WordPress. Every time a Black-owned business would open, I would spread the word”.
As a student, Yvonne got involved in various groups that united and supported Black students, teachers, and faculty. This experience gave her insight into what her community needs from her eventual business. “I decided to become that outlet to give people that information. People no longer needed to drive for 4 hours to get their groceries, they could African groceries in Sudbury”.
Every business needs to have a precise marketing strategy to attract its niche following. This is what makes independent businesses unique and thrive in their respective markets. At the KScope, Yvonne provides tools that are easy to use for up-and-coming businesses. She explains, “This platform gives business owners access to their niche audiences, so they don’t need to worry about the marketing side right away. Of course, their marketing needs will change as the business grows, but new brands can get a head start on our platform”.
The KScope prides itself in being the YellowPages of African Businesses, with the option to also shop. Raising awareness of these brands is beneficial to both business owners and consumers. Customers can get in touch with their own culture while supporting someone’s livelihood. “People want to try the food, wear the clothes, and experience the culture. But no outlet is proactively highlighting and promoting these businesses. So, they are going to be excited about these brands. It will be easy for people to access these brands, buy from them, and even learn more about them”. While Yvonne shares her enthusiasm for all the brands she will be representing, as a self-proclaimed “unofficial foodie,” she is incredibly excited to feature food brands such as SK Cooks, a Nigerian home-inspired restaurant.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Yvonne has intentionally kept her community connected and their favorite brands with in-person and virtual events. “After the first lockdown, we hosted a KScope Community Picnic. We went to the park, brought people together, and showcased some great food.
It was a reminder for people that they are not alone”. As the second lockdown was announced, The KScope platform reminded people that there are resources for people and entrepreneurs during challenging times. “During the second lockdown, we had a virtual movie night. We also hosted a virtual feast for the end of the year, where participating food vendors delivered meals to attendees’ homes”.
The KScope is launching its very own shopping directory on February 15th, 2021. This initiative brings a significant amount of promise for African entrepreneurs and consumers alike. Yvonne shares her excitement for the guide and her ability to get businesses to customers seeking them the most. “People have been asking for this, so I feel like I’m more of a bridge between the gaps. Most of the listing platforms out there don’t provide access to African businesses outside of Toronto. So, with the KScope, you don’t have to be stuck within those rigid points. People can buy food from restaurants in bulk”.
For business-owners, Yvonne is ecstatic to provide marketing tools for starter-ups. “The new Shopping Directory will be offering businesses access to that African niche following. I believe that the KScope has one of the fastest-growing African communities in Toronto, so it’s an excellent feature to access our community directly. Most of these business owners are curators and artisans.
They spend most of their time building things, so they don’t know how to promote their businesses. My goal is for brands “to list themselves and automatically gain access to their audience only. From Ethiopian home-style cuisine to fashion with striking patterns, the KScope showcases noble businesses with something for everyone to enjoy.
The KScope’s new shopping directory launches on February 15th, 2021.
For more information, visit https://thekscope.co/
Yvonne Ben can be found on social media with the handle @thekscope.