Like many Brazilians, Carlos Humberto da Silva (co-founder of Diaspora.Black) decided to use his apartment in Rio de Janeiro, for vacation rentals to have an extra income. Beautiful and well located, Silva’s apartment had the perfect combination to attract guests from all over the world. However, one thing was seen as an obstacle to his business growth: Silva is Black.
According to Da Silva, when guests arrived at his apartment, he was often asked if he was the real owner.
“As if a Black man couldn’t have a nice apartment in Santa Teresa,” he said.
According to travelnoire.com, in many cases, he even had bookings canceled, after guests learned he was an Afro-descendant. The most shocking episode happened when a Dutch couple, who arrived in 2011, decided to leave the place after meeting him, saying, as an excuse, that the apartment was not what they were expecting.
After sharing his bad experiences with friend Antonio Pita, an entrepreneur from Salvador, he realized he was not alone. Many Afro-Brazilian apartment owners were having the same problems. So, they decided to open a business that would change their lives.
Welcome to Diaspora.Black, the Black Brazilian-owned booking platform designed to connect travelers to the African Diaspora.
Founded in 2016 with operations beginning in July 2017, Diaspora.Black is the first of its kind in Latin America.
“The idea came of creating an app to connect the African diaspora came from the experience of racial discrimination. Thus, we realized the importance of creating alternatives that offer security and respect to Black tourists in their travels.
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Since then, we expanded our portfolio of services on our online platform. Now, tourists can find options for a complete trip, with a trip curatorship, packages and cultural experiences that they value as authentic Black cultural manifestations,” Antonio Pita told Travel Noire.
Pita says that right after Diaspora.Black was launched, it had a very positive response.
“(Black) people are increasingly looking for authentic experiences, which reveal stories of our culture that have been erased in different cities. In 4 years of operation, we have already impacted more than 7,000 people who have experienced some of the best of our culture, whether in face-to-face itineraries, accommodations or online activities, which we started to carry out during a pandemic.”
Today, Diaspora.Black reaches more than 15 countries. The Black Brazilian-owned booking platform connects hosts and tours carried out in countries such as South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Peru, Uruguay, Colombia, and United States.
“Getting to know places in our history, with a narrative that values this cultural legacy, has an immense impact on our self-esteem, self-image and our projections of life and future. I believe that our contribution is to make this impact on people, from the experience of these special itineraries in different countries.
To Pita, the best reward is to see tourists getting connected to the diversity of the African diaspora culture.
“They feel proud of the richness present in so many countries and, above all, feel belonging in these cities, when meeting with the hosts, recognizing themselves in the stories of resistance, and valuing the seals of local Black entrepreneurs. Our goal is to connect many diasporic places.”
The pandemic had a strong impact on Diaspora.Black. In March 2020, all reservations were canceled in one week.
“It was a huge blow for our business. However, we quickly developed technology to carry out online activities with our partners. They started to provide online tours, workshops, courses and other activities always focusing on Black culture,” says the cofounder Diaspora.black.
Pita believes that 2022 will be the year of recovery for the tourism industry.
“The tourism sector will get back stronger, specially the activities linked to authentic experiences and immersive and transformative experiences, and we are ready to offer the best options to our customers.”