The YPI Spotlight segment returns to shine the spotlight on YP Insight Family member and one of our trusted advisors, Renee Lord-Lindsay, who has set up her own initiative to support others and bring change to Croydon.
‘My life began to change the moment I started asking the right questions and receiving the wrong answers.’
My name is Renee Lord-Lindsay – I am a marketing graduate and the Managing Director of a Community Interest Company called Croydon Community Leaders (CCL). I started CCL after I read up about ‘Black Wall Street’. Back in the 1920s, a town called Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a place where Jim Crow laws were at large, causing the town to be segregated with most African Americans settling in the northern section of the town. From that segregation grew a black entrepreneurial mecca that would affectionately be called “Black Wall Street” or “Little Africa”.
The town was established in 1906 by the town’s entrepreneurs and by 1921 there were over 11,000 residents and hundreds of prosperous businesses, all owned and operated by black Tulsans and patronized by both whites and blacks. Things like pharmacies, dry cleaners, barber shops, beauty shops, movie theaters, furniture stores, jewellery shops, and clothing stores, to restaurants and cafes, as well as professional services like doctors, lawyers, dentists. Just the kinds of small businesses that make a place vibrant and engaging for the community.
The district’s most successful entrepreneurs reinvested in the community, building parks and additional housing. Greenwood also had gambling, prostitution, and drugs. This was hardly a utopia; it was bound by the realities of human vices and systematic oppression. But the people of Greenwood achieved a level of economic success and self-determination that had never existed before in the United States. The community was completely self-sufficient. Alas, what happened to ‘Black Wall Street’ – LOOK IT UP FOR YOURSELF…
Looking around at this present world, looking even towards our own country’s future, I thought that there had to be a way to tap into people’s sense of community. I wanted to create a movement that gave condensed financial support to Independent Croydon businesses. For me as an individual, I don’t get my coconut caramel latte from Starbucks or Costa, I buy from Smoothbean. I don’t buy smoothie juices from McDonald’s, I go to Snake and Mongoose in West Croydon or Juicced on Portland road.
So after I spoke with my friend, who was a business owner herself, we saw the need for community unity and economic independence. While prepping for our launch, I was also volunteering for a local charity and it occurred to me while Independent businesses are important, so are our local charities that support our community with harrowing social issues such as knife crime, homelessness, hate crime, mental health and more. They should be supported too.
Three weeks later, we held our first networking event, where we had the CEO of Lives not Knives charity, former Operations Director of Evolve Housing and Support, Financial adviser and property investors all in attendance for our launch/networking event.
CCL supports charities and non-profits dealing with Homelessness, Anti-social behaviour (including knife crime), Mental Health, Hate Crimes, Domestic violence, Substance misuse and more. We do this by engaging the community with these organizations through events, initiatives, and campaigns. We look for solutions and innovate ways the community can give back other than monetary donations for these organizations. This year we are expanding our team to support Independent businesses.
Croydon’s diversity along with its challenges is what makes every success story one of pride and ownership for every resident because no matter what we go through, Croydon’s got heart. We just need to channel it.