The Black History Month kick-off event takes place at Tacoma’s Watson Center

Kicking off Black History Month, the fifth annual Black-Owned Business Excellence (BOBE) Symposium will take place from Wednesday, Jan. 31, through Friday, Feb. 2, 2024. The kick-off event is a virtual watch party of the NEW! Documentary – The Cost of Inheritance. The symposium itself starts on Thursday, Feb. 1 at the Watson Signature Event Center (11521 Bridgeport Way Southwest Lakewood) as well as online. The Seattle Public Library is co-sponsoring this event.

The theme of the 2024 BOBE Symposium is “Purchase, Hire, and Deposit into the Washington State Black Ecosystem.” With national and local speakers, small business panels, networking events and workshops on topics such as marketing and AI, the symposium aims to educate and inspire historically underserved business owners with the tools and resources they need to launch, revive and expand their businesses.

“For five years, we’ve brought Black business owners and leaders together to create a more equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem in Washington state,” said Jenefeness Franke of BOBE. “Join us for three days of learning and connection, as we gain valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities of running a successful business and learn about the latest programs aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion in Washington state.”

Find out more about the BOBE Symposium at and register at this EventBrite link. The virtual event costs $40, while the in-person event has a fee of $70. Scholarships are available for those who might benefit from having the registration fee waived; email for details.


This multi-day event includes a virtual watch party and the two-day 2024 BOBE Symposium. Wednesday, Jan. 31 is a free opportunity to watch The Cost of Inheritance documentary virtually. Thursday, Feb. 1 offers a full day of programming from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., while Friday, Feb. 2 offers a shorter day of programs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and an awards ceremony that honors five small-business grantees. Each day also includes opportunities to network, build connections and share resources. Breakfast and lunch will be served both days.

Find the full agenda on the EventBrite link; here are the highlights:

· Wednesday, Jan. 31 watch party: Enjoy a thought provoking kick-off to the symposium with a virtual Watch Party and discussion about the documentary “The Cost of Inheritance.” Join on Zoom or online via social media from the comfort of your home. Dive into the complexities of reparations alongside fellow entrepreneurs! This will spark powerful discussions, building connections and ignite deeper entrepreneurial growth. Learn from the film and each other, and build a more equitable future together.

· Thursday, Feb. 1 program: Thursday’s program will include a keynote address by Shawn D. Rochester, CEO of Good Steward LLC and the founder of PHD Enterprises and the IDEA Institute. Rochester will give a fireside chat that draws from his book “The Black Tax: The Cost of Being Black in America,” which examines the staggering cost of being Black in America and provides a new economic framework that promises to restore jobs and businesses to the Black community. DeiMarlon Scisney of H.O.P. Technical Assistance will deliver a masterclass on integrating AI: transforming marketing and operations for the digital age. An afternoon entrepreneur panel will feature local business owners who will share their challenges and success stories, including Prez Asphy (Presidential Transportation Service), Marquita Evans (Intentions Juice and Smoothie Bar), Jeffrey Taylor (Jeffrey Taylor Insurance) and Teya Williams (Dreams Manifest).

· Friday, Feb. 2 program: On Friday, Joi-Lin Hunt, tax attorney and entrepreneur who has founded businesses including Créme de la Crème Hair and a multi-million car dealership, will share thoughts on “Growing and Protecting Your Business.” An afternoon panel about organizations that help businesses will share the latest information on accessing financing and how to grow a business, with panelists including Dion Cook (Denkyem Co-op), Desiree Wilkins Finch (Tacoma Black Fund), Korbett Mosesly (Community Reinvestment Plan for the Department of Commerce) and Dierdre Patterson (City of Tacoma). Then Elwis Johnson of Johnson Wealth Advisors will lead a masterclass in retirement, investing and funding.

· Awards ceremony. Friday’s program will conclude with BOBE’s awards ceremony, which celebrates Washington’s entrepreneurs by awarding five grants to Washington business owners.


The BOBE symposium is organized in partnership with community organizations including Benford Business Solutions, BECU, City of Tacoma, Professional Women of Color Network, The Seattle Public Library, Greater Seattle Business Association, Take Charge Consulting, Washington State Small Business Development Center, the Washington State Microenterprise Association, Washington State Department of Enterprise Services, Fiscal Finesse Consulting, Evergreen Business Capital, UW Foster School of Business and Business Impact NW and others.


Black-Owned Business Excellence is a volunteer-led 501c3 organization with a collaborative of different local minority owned businesses, organizations and individuals coming together to support, educate, inspire and elevate businesses that are owned by historically underserved business owners in Washington State since 2020. The inaugural BOBE Symposium was held during Black History Month in Tacoma in 2020 with a group of successful business owners that shared their stories, resource partners who provided technical assistance and the community that came together to support. For more information or to register, visit


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