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For(bes) the Culture celebrates Tulsa’s Black entrepreneurs

by Deon Osborne, Associate Editor
For(bes) the Culture celebrates Tulsa’s Black entrepreneurs
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A Forbes magazine initiative focused on highlighting leading Black entrepreneurs landed in Tulsa this week to celebrate Black Wall Street’s business owners.

50 champions of For(bes) the Culture, a subsection of Forbes, arrived in Tulsa on Tuesday to connect with some of Historic Greenwood’s most popular entrepreneurs.

For(bes) the Culture: Journey to Wealth is a three-day immersive experience dedicated to rejoicing and reflecting “on the resilience of Black business and entrepreneurship.

“Tulsa’s best days are not behind it. Tulsa’s best days are in front of it,” Tyrance Billingsley II, founder and CEO of Black Tech Street, said at a For(bes) the Culture event Wednesday night.

Speaking as a panelist, Billingsley II urged those in attendance to activate their businesses towards solutions for Black communities, especially in Tulsa, 101 years after the city-sanctioned massacre of the wealthiest business district in the nation.

For(bes) the Culture, under the umbrella of Forbes, centers Black Wall Street

Each year, For(bes) the Culture nominates 50 champions, successful Black entrepreneurs making an impact in their communities. This week, FTC 50 Champions were flown to Tulsa to tour Black Wall Street and engage with a new generation of local leaders seeking to rebuild a legacy.

Venita Cooper didn’t grow up in a family of entrepreneurs. Her father was a Black military man, and her mother was a Korean seamstress. Yet, Cooper pivoted from being a teacher to becoming the owner of Silhouette Sneakers on Black Wall Street with broad support from the community. She now operates one of Greenwood’s most popular businesses on the land where a shoe store once stood before a white mob burned down 36 square blocks in 1921.

As one of Wednesday’s panelists, Cooper said the connectivity of the community and its willingness to support an ecosystem of entrepreneurs has been instrumental in her success.

“That’s just the way Tulsa is,” Cooper told the audience.

Making Tulsa a blueprint for Black entrepreneurs across the U.S.

Between panels, networking events and a game night to cap off the three-day experience Thursday night, the FTC 50 Champions experienced a taste of the resilient spirit that makes Tulsa’s Black entrepreneurs unique.

Dougie Roux is an entrepreneur who moved from Houston to Tulsa to join the Tulsa Remote program, an incubator that pays young professionals $10,000 to move to Tulsa and start their business. Attending Wednesday’s panel, Roux said he was thankful for the experience.

Focused on creating an app that uses data to secure funding for more mobility infrastructure in underserved communities, Roux said the Tulsa community gives him more support as an entrepreneur than Houston.

“I intentionally chose not to be part of certain things that I didn’t feel were worth my time so I could be in Tulsa more to do things like this. To connect with the community and meet people who are doing the work,” Roux told The Black Wall Street Times.

When it comes to using entrepreneurship to solve community and societal problems, Tyrance Billingsley II, a former FTC Champion himself, urged the members to contribute to solutions.

“How can we amplify not only Tulsa’s story, but help make what’s happening in Tulsa a blueprint,” Billingsley II said. “We want to show you what’s possible, but we’d also love for you to contribute your creative capability to help us solve these problems, because I think that’s beautiful.”


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