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Along with Essence Fest being the largest Black marketplace in the world, the entire diaspora is represented in not only cultural aesthetics, tradition, and pageantry but with collaborative economic action.

The Black Wall Street Times spoke with Barkue Tubman-Zawolo (Chief of Staff and Diasporic Engagement at ESSENCE Ventures) onsite in New Orleans at the Global Black Economic Forum about how she’s continentally connecting culture. Tubman-Zawolo affirmed, “Global Black is exactly that.”

She explained, “We can no longer look at Black as if it’s only in America, Brazil, Africa, or the Caribbean — we have to truly understand that we are more connected than we know.”

Tubman-Zawolo continued, “I think the more we understand who we are from all the places we come from the more we can tap into the power we collectively have.”

With not only the spirit of unity, but full intentionality behind it, SoLo funds and Global Black Economic Forum released a 2023 Cash Poor Report, calling for Congress and state regulators to end junk fees in borrowing, and adopt total cost rate over annual percentage rates.

The Global Black Economic Forum also joined Beacon of Hope to collaboratively address economic inequities across the globe.

Tubman-Zawolo continued, “From Global Black Economic Forum to Essence Venture to New Voices Foundation, our goal across all brands is to empower Black businesses to go from small to big.”

“Black Excellence is a real thing.” Tubman-Zawolo continued, “What I get to do in this role is bridge the gap to form real partnerships. Black people are not a monolith; I talk to people in Nigeria differently than I would Black Americans but we’re all fighting for the same thing — equality. And to elevate who we are as a people.”

The Global Black Economic Forum and the Academy for Advancing Excellence announced the launch of the E-Suite App, The Academy for Advancing Excellence and Global Black Economic Forum later announced The Board Accelerator: a program to develop the next generation of Black Women boardroom leaders.

Tubman-Zawolo emphasized, “The goal of what we do is to make sure people see themselves as the CEO.”

She continued, “Our responsibility is to make sure small business owners aspire not to stay as small business owners but grow bigger, and through their experiences, help others.”

“At Essence, we know that Black women are the CEO of home, culture, and community. If you look at it globally, the same is true for all women,” said Tubman-Zawolo. “We raise the kids, teach the kids, build the family unit, keep community safe — if you look at African and international history, women have always played a critical role.”

The Global Black Economic Forum also announced a $300,000 investment in the Amujae Initiative, the Flagship Program of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center. 

Regarding Essence’s track record and results of providing quality services and information to a global audience, Tubman-Zawolo remarked, “Access is everything. We’re in service to our community so when we hear some of us don’t have access, we figure out what we can do or direct them to the right platform to help them. Information is key. We’re tasked with making sure we get the right information to our community.”

Tubman-Zawolo concluded, “Representation is so important. Not only representation, but the right representation. We will continue to drive information and put the right type of information in front of our community so that they aren’t solely being told what to do, but they’re given tools so they too can be a part of that change.”

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...