| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn RSS Feed

Innovation & Job News

'Netflix for the global black community' to debut from Alexandria entrepreneur

DeShuna Spencer, a resident of Alexandria, Va. and founder of Empower Magazine, is in the running to win $50k through Women Who Tech’s Women Startup Challenge. On the line is an opportunity to grow her latest venture that may revolutionize the way African Americans consume media.

Kweli TV is an interactive, streaming network offering on-demand indie films, web shows, documentaries, historical & educational content and news programming. Sounds a little like Netflix, right? Almost, except the platform is produced by and caters to the global black community.

The idea to start the platform came after Spencer observed the ways in which people of color and African descent are portrayed in the media. “If you were to watch cable and traditional TV shows, you’d see [black] women fighting each other on reality TV. If you see black men, they're in the news as criminals. You can even go beyond that to the continent of Africa and see a lot of negative stereotypes, making people think of someone who's from Africa as living in extreme poverty or extreme hunger,” says Spencer, who’s originally from Memphis, TN. “That’s not the true makeup of the African diaspora.”

Even on increasingly popular streaming services, a necessity for the millennial generation, she still noticed a lack of content relative to her culture. “So I said well wouldn’t it be great if there was a streaming network for us that really focuses on positive content, educational content and inspires people and that’s why I came up with Kweli TV,” she says.

In Swahili, Kweli means truth, she explains, “so basically that means that our goal is to show the true makeup of our culture, what our culture really is and not what people assume that it is from the glimpses that they see on television.”  

The platform’s beta launch is scheduled for late May, with an official launch in December.

Her goal through the crowdfunding competition is to raise $20k for the product which will go toward final tweaking of the beta, producing a daily 5-minute video program covering the 5 top news items of the African diaspora and creating an interactive "call-to-action" component to the platform so viewers can take action and get involved in the stories they watch.

The challenge wraps up May 29 and if she is one of the top 25 fundraisers, she’ll move to the next stage and pitch Kweli TV to D.C. venture capitalists.

Over two dozen films and series have been secured (trailers can be viewed here), but she’s still making a call to bring as much material to the platform as possible. “If people are film makers or produce independent web series and meet the criteria of what true television means, we're definitely looking for content,” she says.

Read more articles by Christina Sturdivant.

Christina Sturdivant is a native Washingtonian who's always watching and writing about the latest cultural, community and innovative trends in the city. She's interested in people and companies that create equitable opportunities for longtime residents and transplants alike.
Signup for Email Alerts
Signup for Email Alerts

Related Company

Related Content