Before leaving Malawi to pursue studies in Italy almost eight years ago, I was oblivious to the many benefits of living in a predominantly black country. In Italy, simple things I took for granted at home became a major hassle or an expensive luxury. Where were the black-owned beauty salons, restaurants, boutiques, therapists, and other service providers?
Of course, there aren’t as many people of African descent in Italy as in the United States or the United Kingdom, so the country doesn’t have many black business entrepreneurs. I found a few by relentlessly questioning random black women I encountered on the streets about where they went to get their hair done, bought their African food, etc.
It’s also well-known that Italy has diversity and inclusion issues; this is a particularly pressing issue for black women in business. Racial bias makes it harder for black women business owners to raise money, gain customers, and gain professional respect on par with their non-black peers.