About Akua Yamoah Opoku
Akua Yamoah Opoku is a Ghanaian-American woman and Florida native serving communities by promoting sustainable and BIPOC-owned businesses through her company A.Y.O. Business Finder.
Since the events of 2020, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the increase in Asian hate crimes within the United States, she has been working tirelessly to help others discover and support BIPOC-owned, sustainable businesses.
BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) businesses have a long history of experiencing racism and discrimination and being underrepresented in the sustainability space.
Akua shares, “I have been on this journey of serving community in different ways and one way that’s really touched my heart over the last, about five years now, is living sustainably and minimalistic. So, I’ve really been on this journey of how do I live a life I love that’s ultimately good for the planet is really the purpose and model that I lead my journey with and help other people do as well.”
As a means of accomplishing this mission, Akua founded A.Y.O. Business Finder.
What is A.Y.O. Business Finder?
A.Y.O. Business Finder helps users find BIPOC-owned sustainable businesses, uplifting the environment and BIPOC community in the process.
Akua Yamoah Opoku shares that after the events of 2020, such as George Floyd’s murder and the crimes against other Black individuals, she needed a constructive outlet.
“I really was beyond infuriated and frustrated, and I needed a constructive outlet to release this anger and really be about sharing love and really be about calling people in, instead of calling people out because that was really big during that time.”
In 2020, she began seeing people sharing about Black-owned businesses to show their support, which inspired her to consider ways to put all of these business recommendations together in one place.
A.Y.O. Business Finder started with Black businesses but expanded to Asian companies during the rise of Asian crime during the pandemic.
“It grew from there to Hispanic and Indigenous, and that is really how the Finder came to be, just collecting a lot of Instagram and Pinterest and doing that research and then putting it all in one user-friendly website that makes it easy for people to support the BIPOC communities.”
In addition to that, all of the businesses featured on A.Y.O. Business Finder are also sustainable.
Growing Her Business
Akua shares that the key to growing her business has been being unapologetic about sharing her mission and why she is doing what she is doing.
“It’s being on different social media platforms. Right now, I’m really on the TikTok bandwagon and Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. Just finding different ways to share my story and also building really close relationships with the different business owners that are on the finder and really supporting them, so they continue to be here for years to grow.”
She emphasizes the importance of using your buying power to save the planet and support BIPOC communities.
“Many people in the BIPOC community, when they start a business, it’s really to leave something for their family and the next generations to come. So that dollar really goes the distance.”
Using your buying power tells others in your community, big corporations, and the government what issues are important to you.
Finding Businesses for the A.Y.O. Business Finder
Akua shares, “I really look at a wide variety of businesses in terms of where they are on their sustainability journey. It’s really important for me that I show others that there are going to be different levels in a sustainability journey for a business, right?”
She adds that some businesses may have recyclable packaging, while others may have robust sustainability plans where they have recyclable packaging, natural products, and more. However, both companies are essential in contributing to the environment’s health.
When researching brands to include, she looks for words like sustainability, natural, vegan, recycled, upcycled, and more.
Using Influencer Marketing
As part of her marketing for A.Y.O. Business Finder, Akua has worked with different influencers to grow her business.
Previously, she has collaborated with influencers on Instagram lives, typically featuring general sustainability tips or content.
One thing she focuses on in sustainability content is making it accessible to everyone.
“Everybody’s on different levels in their journey and sustainability, and not everyone can afford to necessarily buy from sustainable businesses with those kinds of prices, but a lot of people can do clothing swaps and thrifting and things like that, so that was also a part of my messaging and story.”
Akua’s Content Creation
Akua also features business owners on Instagram Live so that viewers can learn about the person behind the business and their story building the business. In this way, she also considers herself a content creator because she works to spread her sustainability message using everything from traditional photos on Instagram to short-form video content on Instagram and TikTok.
Recently, she’s been exploring long-form video content on YouTube as a way to go more in-depth about sustainability and BIPOC-owned businesses.
Another critical part of her marketing strategy is investing back into her A.Y.O. email newsletter, where she opens up to her community and shares insightful articles on the sustainability space.
“The secret to my success, I would say, is consistency and being willing to be flexible. Consistency in the sense that it’s pretty easy to get started, but a lot get started, and not many continue creating.”
Flexibility also comes into play because she has had to adapt to different algorithm changes and preferences over the years.
“That has also helped me stay relevant and stay in this space for so long because I’m willing to pivot as new things come out, and old things fade away.”
What’s Next for the A.Y.O. Business Finder
Akua shares, “Right now, we have over 300 sustainable businesses by people of color on the website, which is really exciting. I could not have imagined that when I started that there were so many out there. I’m going to continue to add new businesses on the finder, which is really exciting.”
In addition, she plans on adding resources to help people with money and sustainability, two topics not often discussed together. However, this vital combination allows individuals to develop a plan to make sustainability accessible, regardless of how much money they have.
Akua will also continue developing the A.Y.O. newsletter to keep people informed about the sustainability space.
“All I would say is that I don’t want people to underestimate their buying power, which is essentially their vote to the world of what you want to see in the world you’re living in. Just being intentional about how you use your money can really do wonders for creating this world.”