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This company wants to bring black businesses to your doorstep

Strange Roots founder and president Kwaku Osei-Bonsu (left) with vice president of operations Cedric Marshall.

When Kwaku Osei-Bonsu was a freshman at Howard University, his mom – like many parents tend to do – sent him care packages. She would get together with members at her church to put together boxes for the congregation’s college students, always ensuring each was filled with items that were actually relevant to them: books by black authors, snacks from home.

Osei-Bonsu turned this idea into a business. Strange Roots – yes, inspired by the Billie Holiday song – is a monthly subscription service that delivers a collection of items to college students across the country.

The contents of the boxes are different each month but always include a book, a snack item, toiletries and a wild card item.

“Every single item in the box is manufactured by a small black business. Our goal is economic activism,” Osei-Bonsu says. “By doing that, you’re putting money back into the black community, but you’re also providing these students and whomever else purchases the box with items that they both need and want.”

Though designed for college students, Osei-Bonsu says the boxes are suitable for almost anyone – “people in the military, seniors in nursing homes” – and they eventually want to be approved as a vendor with the Michigan Department of Corrections to get boxes to those who are incarcerated.

The boxes ship on the 18th of each month, and a subscription costs $29.99 per box plus shipping. They also offer the option to buy individual boxes or individual products from the boxes on their website.

Learn more at strangeroots.co.

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