Photo depicting Jenefeness Franke wearing a blue business dress and black-and-white patterned blazer speaking into a microphone at the Black-Owned Business Excellence Symposium.

Black-Owned Business Excellence Symposium Kicks Off Tomorrow in Tacoma

Attend in-person or virtually, for a ‘lifeline, and an asset map’ for Black entrepreneurs.

by Victor Simoes

The fourth annual Black-Owned Business Excellence Symposium will kick off Black History Month tomorrow, Feb. 1, at the University of Washington Tacoma — William W. Philip Hall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This will be the first in-person edition of the event since 2020. The organizers hope to celebrate, learn, and build connections among Black-owned businesses.

“A lot of people, when they think about Black-owned businesses, don’t understand the vast majority of Black-owned businesses in the state of Washington because many of us have not been utilized,” said Jenefeness Franke, a professional development consultant and an event organizer. “We have not been celebrated and have not put ourselves in front of folks who can utilize our businesses.” 

The expo, organized by Black-Owned Business Excellence (WA), features dozens of Black-owned businesses and programming composed of panels with Black entrepreneurs from all over Washington State, a keynote lecture from Dr. George Fraser from FraserNet, and breakout sessions with specialists in various themes of business-related concerns. 

Keynote speaker Dr. George Fraser is the chairman and CEO of FraserNet, a resource center and global network focused on developing individuals and businesses of African descent. He is also the author of six best-selling books, including Success Runs in Our Race and Mission Unstoppable: Extraordinary Stories of Failure’s Blessings, a book he cowrote with Les Brown. Fraser will speak on improving networking skills, building wealth, and valuable insights from his own entrepreneurial experiences. 

Businesses participating in the first panel include Black Coffee Northwest, DayoSense, Keisha Credit — Your Business Bestie, ETC Tacoma, and QueenCare. The panel will be moderated by Curtiss Calhoun from Curtiss Calhoun Coaching & Consulting.

The second panel focuses on supporters of Black-owned businesses; the discussion will be led by the Rudd’s R.U.B.B. Initiative, National Black MBA Association of Seattle, UW Foster School of Business, WOW Tri-Cities, and the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services.

Breakout sessions in the afternoon will explore themes like business coaching, marketing, networking, financial management, start-up assistance, strategic business planning, and nonprofit management.

“We are very, very intentional about access and accountability, making sure that businesses know that they have support, a lifeline, and an asset map of where they can go to grow their business,” said Franke.

The Symposium will wrap up by giving $1,000 grants to five recipients selected from over 300 Black entrepreneur applicants in the state of Washington.

Tickets for in-person and online options are available on the event’s Eventbrite webpage. The online option is free, and the in-person event costs $15. Attendees can apply for one of a limited number of scholarships by emailing

“Everything in this event is Black-owned, from the catering to the photographer, because we really want to [promote] Black-owned businesses,” Franke said.

Victor Simoes is an international student at the University of Washington pursuing a double degree in journalism and photo/media. Originally from Florianópolis, Brazil, they enjoy radical organizing, hyper pop, and their beloved cats. Their writing focuses on community, arts, and culture. You can find them on Instagram or Twitter at @victorhaysser.

📸 Featured Image: Jenefeness Franke, a founder of Black-Owned Business Excellence and professional development consultant, speaks about management, operations, brand, and marketing at a panel in The Fourth Annual Black-Owned Business Excellence Symposium. (Photo: Merissa Humes)

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