Two Portland brothers have launched an app to connect residents to Black-owned businesses. Adrian and Ronnie Wright launched the XB app last year after originally trying to help the community through a Facebook group. When he first created the Facebook group named Black Portland in 2015, Adrian said it was a way to “reconnect the community.”

Speaking with Oregon Live, Adrian said he remembers when Black people in the city faced several challenges during the 1980s, including the difficulty of getting mortgages from banks. The Portland entrepreneur also said he saw crime increasing in Black neighborhoods whilst the rate of homeownership declined. Many longtime residents left their neighborhoods as home prices continued to increase, Adrian added.

“Displaced residents relocated eastward, while newcomers, often employed by major corporations, gravitated westward,” Adrian told Oregon Live. “This geographical dispersion fractured the once tight-knit bonds we shared.”

As he launched the Facebook group, Adrian said he wanted to encourage “Black empowerment, support for Black-owned enterprises, and the quest for authentic connections among individuals who resemble us.”

The group attracted over 13,000 members, serving as a key networking platform for Portland’s Black community.

The residents were thrilled to have a place that helped them find Black-owned barbershops, hair salons, restaurants, healthcare providers and other businesses. The problem, however, was that Facebook doesn’t show all the posts all the time.

“Even if you follow a page, even if you’re a part of a group … you’re at the mercy of Facebook’s algorithm to decide what you see,” Adrian said.

Ronnie then suggested launching an app that could serve the same purpose in a more organized manner.

“We wanted to take the utility of that online community and put it somewhere useful,” Ronnie told Oregon Live. “Where people can easily find all this information in one place.”

Ronnie, who has experience as a footwear designer, said he was able to use his tech skills to create the app. The XB app not only features Black-owned businesses and local events but also provides features on Black entrepreneurs.

The “X” in the app’s name represents the multiplication sign. Meanwhile, the “B” stands for Black. Therefore, the name represents Black culture amplification.

Adrian said the app is different from other similar creations because it’s designed by Portland natives who are very knowledgeable about the community. XB, which is available in the Apple or Google app for 99 cents, allows business users to apply and get listed in the app’s directory for free.

The brothers said they are taking money out of their own pockets to run the app. In the future, the duo said they may have to add a subscription service or ads to keep the app going.

“Everyone benefits,” Ronnie said. “When you support the Black community, you support every community.”