African and Caribbean Market
Another of the projects supported by Owned by Oxford is an African Caribbean Community Market in the Blackbird Leys neighbourhood. The market is being set up by women at WOW (Women Of the World) Space, a self-referred space offering migrant women who have survived FGM, domestic violence and other trauma the opportunity to build friendships and foster their wellbeing.
Jameelah Shodunke, a local community organiser who helps run the WOW Space, explained how the idea for a market came about:
“The women at WOW Space were interested in setting up their own businesses, and had many ideas for products they would sell. We had one lady that makes Congolese pepper sauce, another who wanted to make fish pies, and others who wanted to sell bags, and hair and beauty products. Setting up the market was a way to give the women safe space to try out their business ideas.”
“We’ve started small, with a few tables at the community centre. Our vision is that it will grow into a regular African and Caribbean community market. We’d like to get more local businesses involved, as well as offering residents with a business idea a low cost, low risk way of testing their products.”
The group received a £4,000 grant from Owned by Oxford, which will go towards the cost of equipment for the market such as generators, gazebos and a PA system.
“As the market develops, we’d like to set it up as a co-operative, where stallholders pay a membership fee to join the co-operative, and together they’d make decisions about how the market operates. Membership could bring certain benefits, like access to shared equipment and support with business administration and insurance. This would make it easier for people who want to set up a business but don’t want to do it alone.”
As well as supporting local enterprises, Jameelah hopes a more regular market would give residents access to culturally-appropriate products.
“In Oxford, local people of African and Caribbean descent can’t easily get hold of foods and other products from our cultural heritage; we need to travel all the way to London, or even Birmingham! We want to bring these products to our community, but also create something that is more than just a place to do your shopping. It will be a regular community event, for residents to come together, meet up with friends, bump into their neighbours!”