There is no shortage of parenting apps in the digital universe. It’s not hard to find a place to get advice on everything from diapers to discipline. But if you’re a Black parent or caregiver, you may feel like the content just isn’t for you. A Black entrepreneur and mom of three hears you loud and clear and has developed a digital village for Black parents and caregivers at every stage in the process. And she’s got some celebrity help to spread the word.
Leigh Higginbotham Butler knew that most parenting apps weren’t inclusive of Black caregivers, and she wanted to create a space where they felt welcome and understood. “As moms of black children, we navigate a special set of circumstances. From doctors to caregivers, to teachers, to principals, police, and other parents — we have to advocate for our children in a unique way,” said Butler. “The truth is that it takes a village to raise a child — and every woman deserves access to that type of community.”
She started Akina, which means “strong family bond” in Swahili, as an online community for Black moms to deal with the unique challenges they face while raising their children. The idea evolved into Meet Akina, a multi-functional app available for download on Apple and Google Play.
When developing the app, Butler says she wanted to create a space where every Black mom or caregiver felt included. “We were really intentional about making sure the app touches on wherever you are in your experience, whether you’re thinking about becoming a parent to grandmotherhood and all of the stops in between,” she said. “Because at the end of the day, whether you have kids or not, at some point, you are supporting a Black child. She says what makes Meet Akina stand out from some other social platforms is that it is an uplifting and empowering community where moms feel supported rather than judged. “We’re not here to judge or tell you you’re doing it wrong,” she said.
In addition to connecting with other parents and caregivers, Meet Akina users also have access to the exclusive courses found in the app. The classes range from mental health support, advice on starting a business and exercise videos, all to add value to the user experience. And Butler says all of the courses are expertly produced with Black women in mind. “You know what you are getting here is tried and true because we have vetted everything. We wanted to make sure that everything was specific to the Black motherhood experience. We’re the Wakanda for Black moms. Whatever you’re looking for, we’ve got it,” she said.
Since its November 2021 launch, Meet Akina has experienced rapid growth. They’ve even secured their first celebrity brand ambassador, actress and singer Deborah Joy Winans.“As a Black woman, I believe in the mission of Meet Akina. Too often, we are ignored; our needs, our challenges and our concerns are dismissed by those we entrust with our health, our education and our children,” Winans said. “Meet Akina is on a mission to empower Black moms and moms of Black children to advocate for themselves and their families. We deserve to do all that we can to not only make sure we are living our best lives but that our children are thriving and becoming incredible, productive adults that will continue to shape this world and make it a better place.”
Meet Akina is free for users, which is something Butler says won’t change. “We want to make sure users can always have access to what’s available,” she said.