AfroFreelancer Helps Black Entrepreneurs Find Jobs

A marketplace for Black freelancers

When these two Black women struggled to connect with Black freelancers for small side jobs, they began building a platform to address the issue.

MJ Cunningham and Lillian Jackson are the cofounders of Afrofreelancer, a service that includes a marketplace for Black freelancers to connect with projects. 

AfroFreelancer cofounders, MJ Cunningham (left) and Lillian Jackson (right).
AfroFreelancer cofounders, MJ Cunningham (left) and Lillian Jackson (right).


Launched in September 2020, AfroFreelancer lets freelancers create a profile to showcase their expertise and connect with career opportunities. Businesses can also post projects or support their need for freelancers by choosing from available talent. AfroFreelancer supports freelancers across nine main categories, including programming, writing, digital marketing, and financial services. Users can search through AfroFreelancer's database by location, freelancer profile, category, or project. 

"We wanted [to build] a community of Black Freelancers where if someone was starting a business, they could find everything they needed in one stop," Cunningham told Lifewire. "Someone to do their graphic design, launch their website, do their bookkeeping, manage your social media, provide human resources support, you name it. That did not exist. So, we created it."

Quick Facts

  • Names: MJ Cunningham and Lillian Jackson
  • Ages: Cunningham-35. Jackson-41. 
  • From: Cunningham-Compton, California. Jackson-Richmond, Virginia.
  • Random delight: Cunningham-"I am a skydiving introvert." Jackson-"I am an avid bruncher."
  • Key quote or motto: "Thoughts become things, choose the good ones."

Filling a Gap

Cunningham and Jackson ran their own businesses before coming together to launch AfroFreelancer. Cunningham runs a finance and human resources company called Let's Make Cents, and Jackson co-founded an event series called Brown Skin Brunchin'.

Cunningham said she would go to sites like UpWork and Fiverr when hiring freelancers. She struggled to find Black freelancers, so she teamed up with Jackson and decided to build a community of Black freelancers and a platform that could connect them to various job opportunities. 

"We would literally scroll and scroll page after page searching for a Black freelancer," Cunningham said. "We knew so many people with so much talent, but being able to find them online in a space just for us, from anywhere in the world. That was non-existent."

Cunningham said she's always envisioned being an entrepreneur. When she was eight years old, she used to sell coloring books, necklaces, and candy. After graduating from USC, Cunningham started building her career in finance and eventually connected with Jackson at a brunch that she was hosting. Cunningham actually took Jackson's company on as a client before they started their founder journey together.

AfroFreelancer cofounders, MJ Cunningham (left) and Lillian Jackson (right).
AfroFreelancer cofounders, MJ Cunningham (left) and Lillian Jackson (right).


Cunningham has always done bookkeeping and accounting for a handful of clients on the side, so launching a finance business seemed like the perfect fit before AfroFreelancer. Jackson is a marketing and tech guru who enjoys learning how to code in her spare time. Together, they are working diligently to fill a gap for Black professionals and businesses looking to diversify their employee pool.

Creating Freedom

AfroFreelancer has a team of about ten employees and is currently looking to hire more content writers, human resources representatives, social media coordinators, and financial professionals. Cunningham and Jackson are growing their team and company organically. Unfortunately, they haven't raised any venture capital yet. 

"We're not a huge corporation or agency. We used our own funds to make this happen because we could not get the funding we wanted upfront, no sponsors, no big brands," Jackson said. "We did this the old-fashioned way: maxing out our credit cards, calling in favors, too many sleepless nights to count, wearing multiple hats, and bringing in our friends to help. Together, we built a space for everyone to thrive and learn."

Cunningham and Jackson even took on additional clients for their other companies to raise funds to support AfroFreelancer. The cofounders said one of their most rewarding moments in business was when they got the marketing materials for their first business expo. Cunningham and Jackson said that was their "we are really doing this!" moment, and they remember that when they are working through the obstacles. 

"We knew so many people with so much talent, but being able to find them online in a space just for us... That was non-existent."

"AfroFreelancer's mission is to create freedom. The freedom to be exactly who you are, do the things that bring your heart joy, and be the rockstar you were created to be," Cunningham concluded. "We want you to enjoy life, spend time with those you love, work from the beach, and continue to show the world what your superpower is."

Over the next year, Cunningham and Jackson are moving full steam ahead to put AfroFreelancer on the map. The cofounders want to partake in HBCU tours connect with Greek organizations and other Black-led groups to help Black professionals connect with career opportunities.

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