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How Global Village Foods Is Bringing African Cuisine to New England and Beyond: An Interview with Wangene Hall https://www.wealthnoir.com/blog/global-village-foods-interview/
<figure class=”wp-block-image size-large”><img loading=”lazy” width=”1024″ height=”572″ src=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Globla-Village-Foods-Interview.blog_-1024×572.png” alt=”Global Village Foods Interview” class=”wp-image-6466″ srcset=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Globla-Village-Foods-Interview.blog_-1024×572.png 1024w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Globla-Village-Foods-Interview.blog_-300×168.png 300w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Globla-Village-Foods-Interview.blog_-768×429.png 768w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Globla-Village-Foods-Interview.blog_-100×56.png 100w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Globla-Village-Foods-Interview.blog_-340×191.png 340w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Globla-Village-Foods-Interview.blog_.png 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”></figure>
<p><i><span>The following interview with Wangene Hall of Global Village Foods was conducted over email and edited for flow and clarity.</span></i></p>
<p><b>Wangene Hall is a multifaceted, multi-talented, brilliant young woman who has found purpose in supporting her parents with their family business Global Village Foods. In this interview, she talks about how Global Village Foods started, what it means to work with family, and the hopes she has for the future for both herself and the company. </b></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): Thanks for spending time with us and allowing us to learn about Global Village Foods and about the work you and your family are doing. </b><b>Can you share with our readers where the idea for Global Village Foods came from and what type of foods you sell?</b></p>
<p><b>Wangene Hall of Global Village Foods</b><span>: The idea for Global Village Foods came from our ethos and mission: making African-inspired and global flavors that everyone could enjoy. We started the business as Global Village Cuisine in 2015, which encapsulated our desire to bring African heritage and old world cooking techniques into convenient dining options like frozen dinners and to-go snacks. We rebranded in early 2021 so we could better reflect our mission of making food that everyone can enjoy. The word “cuisine” was a helpful starting point, but we got feedback from our customers that it felt a little bit too fancy and not as accessible as we wanted it to be. The word “food” is simple. You eat it everyday and it’s a part of your daily routine. The rebrand to “Global Village Foods” allowed us to convey our mission of making allergy-friendly African food for everyone.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>We sell many different products. You can find our line of frozen meals in Whole Foods across New England. These are branded meals with the new packaging we released at the beginning of 2021. You can also find our samosas in co-ops and delis across New England. If you’ve had samosas from an independent co-op in the Northeast, chances are, you’ve had our product. These samosas are often sold in bulk without our branding, but you can also find samosas in single-serve containers that do have our branding. We’ve been doing a lot of exciting work in product innovation, so we’ll also be releasing lots of new offerings in 2022. Be sure to <a href=”https://globalvillagefoods.com/pages/about-us” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>sign-up for our email</a> to be notified when new products are released!</span></p>
<p><b>WN: I want to explore the Global Village Foods ethos, this notion that food is for everyone to enjoy. W</b><b>hat does sharing food from the Diaspora mean to you and your family?</b></p>
<p><b>Wangene Hall of Global Village Foods</b><span>: Sharing food from the African Diaspora means that we’re bringing authentic recipes that reflect our own cultural history and the rich diversity of flavors, spices and ingredients found across Africa. We focus on a few key regions: we have Kenyan dishes represented with our Swahili Curry Chicken and our Samosa lines; we have Ethiopian dishes; we have Moroccan dishes; and we even have an allergy-friendly version of a traditional West African stew. What this means to us is that we’re making flavors that an American audience may not know about and we’re making them delicious, allergy friendly and easy to enjoy.</span></p>
<p><span>Sharing food from the African Diaspora also means being creative and inspired; knowing that authentic recipes from Kenya can be just as powerful as bringing in Southern soul recipes. We see ourselves as part of the conversation around African Diaspora and cooking traditions that Stephen Satterfield started with “High on the Hog.” We can be true to the spirit of these places while reimagining them. Both are authentic as our co-founders, Damaris and Mel Hall, come from Kenya and Memphis, Tennessee, respectively. Recipes, cooking and community allow us a space to imagine what Black community can look like across both African and African- American experiences.</span></p>
<p><b>WN: </b><b>I love that you mentioned Stephen Satterfield. I was introduced to him this year when I watched </b><b><i>High on the Hog </i></b><b>on Netflix. It is such an incredible series and should be seen by all. I agree that understanding and celebrating those connections through our food is paramount to building community within the Diaspora. I want to talk a little bit about entrepreneurship, as this is a family business. Many entrepreneurs acknowledge that entrepreneurship can be challenging, but your father views entrepreneurship, particularly for Black people, as a means of economic development and liberation. Can you expound on that?</b></p>
<p><b>Wangene Hall of Global Village Foods</b><span>: My father, Mel, from Memphis, Tennessee, is the ultimate entrepreneur. He sees a vision of how the world could be, and from nothing, he’s able to bring new ideas to life. For him, building a business started deep. His own grandfather, and my great-grandfather, started the first Black-owned plumbing company in Memphis. Despite all the hardships endured during the Jim Crow era, he was able to feed his family and inspire lessons on Black entrepreneurship that my father, Mel, teaches to this day. When you’re building a business, you’re building a legacy, too.</span></p>
<p><b>WN: Amen to that beautiful notion of building a legacy! I argue that many of our readers have the same goal. They don’t just want financial freedom for themselves, they want it for their families. So, it’s been well over a year since COVID-19 changed the global community. </b><b>How did the pandemic affect your business last year and what are three things that you did to help sustain it.</b></p>
<p><b>Wangene Hall of Global Village Foods</b><span>: Our business, like many others, got hit really hard by the pandemic. The biggest challenge for us was the loss of foot traffic, because we were primarily a brick and mortar business. Without anyone going into stores to buy the product, our revenue dropped significantly. Very quickly, we had to learn about the e-commerce space, build a website and let our amazing customers know where to find us. That revenue allowed us to survive through the worst of it. Thankfully, in Vermont, we have an incredible program called </span><a href=”https://vteveryoneeats.org/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”><span>Vermont Everyone Eats</span></a><span> that started in the fall of 2020. Under the program, local Vermont restaurants were paid by state funding to produce meals for the local community that would be distributed to those who were food insecure. One of the requirements of the program was that you had to use 10% local produce, which was easy for us to do as a company that prioritized local sourcing prior to the pandemic. The program has had a major impact as it’s allowed us to continue growing and, most importantly, have a really meaningful impact on our local community by alleviating food insecurity for families around Vermont.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>Outside of e-commerce and Everyone Eats, we’ve also worked really hard to pivot our foodservice business (bulk foods that can be served in deli sections of grocery stores, college dining halls or work cafeterias). That business is now catered to single serve, individual portions that allow for anyone looking for a quick lunch or dinner option to enjoy our offerings.</span></p>
<p><b>WN:</b> <b>It is incredible that you had access to those resources during this time and that it helped you guys pivot. You all had to be creative and nimble, which is important as business owners. </b><b>When you think about the next 5-10 years for the business, what growth opportunities do you envision for GVF?</b></p>
<p><b>Wangene Hall of Global Village Foods: </b><span>Over the next 5-10 years, we envision a few exciting things at Global Village Foods. We intend to be a leader in food service, to continue expanding into the grocery store aisle and we expect to keep rolling out new and exciting products. We want to be a family-oriented company that employees are proud to be a part of and we want to continue to be a voice for Black entrepreneurship and community in Vermont.</span></p>
<p><b>WN: </b><b>As a brand that believes in community, how does GVF authentically engage with the community beyond providing this incredible food service?</b></p>
<p><b>Wangene Hall of Global Village Foods: </b><span>Beyond incredible food service, we’re actively engaged in the community by supporting organizations like the </span><a href=”https://www.vtreleafcollective.org/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”><span>Vermont Releaf Collective</span></a><span>, a network for BIPOC folks advancing racial equity in Land, Environment, Agriculture, Farming and Foodways. In 2022, we’ll also be unveiling ways that customers can engage with us at our new facility in Quechee, VT.</span></p>
<p><b>WN: That’s exciting and I’m sure you’re looking forward to 2022 with all the new stuff you have on the horizon. I want to talk more about this family dynamic and how you all fit within GVF. Your </b><b>mother is a culinary artist, your father is an entrepreneur. Where does Wangene fit in this business, what are your main responsibilities?</b></p>
<p><b>Wangene Hall of Global Village Foods</b><span>: This one’s easy! At Global Village Foods, I do everything from marketing, to executing strategic initiatives and building the ecosystem around what we do. Basically, over the past few years, I’ve learned to be scrappy and find resources to grow the business according to what it needs right now. That ranges from everything from financing projects to marketing and sales. My own goals are going back for my MBA so I can learn the management skills to be a strong operator and strategic advisor to diverse business owners in the CPG (</span><span>consumer packaged goods) space</span><span>. As part of </span><a href=”https://mlt.org/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”><span>MLT (Management Leadership for Tomorrow)</span></a><span> and </span><a href=”http://www.fortefoundation.org/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”><span>the Forté Foundation</span></a><span>, I’ve already taken strides towards that goal. Long-term, I look forward to coming back to my family business to help us continue to grow.</span></p>
<p><b>WN: </b><b>Can you share with our readers your path to joining the family business and the ways in which you plan to elevate it?</b></p>
<p><b>Wangene Hall of Global Village Foods: </b><span>It was an exciting surprise! I worked in corporate America for five years before joining the family business, and I initially had the goal of being the CMO of a Fortune 500 company. When Covid hit, I realized that I could make a bigger impact and own my outcomes if I joined the family business. In this process, I helped navigate our transition from brick and mortar to e-commerce and omnichannel. I’ve been actively involved in helping us scale growth, and I plan to continue to elevate the business by sharing our story and getting us in front of the customers who have a real need for our products. My focus in business school is learning the skills to help us grow in both foodservice and retail, which I believe will require strategy, operations and finance skills. For me, that’s a huge reason behind why I want to pursue my MBA. No matter what happens next, I’m grateful and deeply honored to continue building on my family’s legacy of Black entrepreneurship.</span></p>
<p><b>WN: It has been a pleasure learning about GVF and all that you’re doing in the foodservice space. </b><b>For our readers who may be interested in trying your delicious meals, where can we find them, in which stores, and where online?</b></p>
<p><b>Wangene Hall of Global Village Foods: </b><span>You can always find us online at </span><a href=”https://globalvillagefoods.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”><span>globalvillagefoods.com</span></a><span>. We’re currently in Whole Foods and natural food co-ops across New England. We’ve got lots of exciting plans to expand in 2022, which means that online ordering is currently unavailable. But that said, you should follow us on </span><a href=”https://www.instagram.com/eatglobalvillage” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”><span>Instagram</span></a><span> or </span><a href=”https://www.facebook.com/eatglobalvillage/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”><span>Facebook</span></a><span> to keep up with our latest happenings. We’ll have more exciting news to announce soon about where to find us next!</span></p>

<p><span>Thank you again Wangene for sharing the story of Global Village Foods with the Wealth Noir Community. Thanks to you and your parents for sharing food from the African Diaspora in New England and beyond. We’re thrilled for the success you’ve obtained thus far even in the midst of challenges and for what the future holds!</span></p>
<p><span>&nbsp;</span></p><div class=”saboxplugin-wrap” itemtype=”http://schema.org/Person” itemscope itemprop=”author”><div class=”saboxplugin-tab”><div class=”saboxplugin-gravatar”><img src=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Asha-Atkins-Headshot-e1625500560559.jpg” width=”100″ height=”100″ alt itemprop=”image”></div><div class=”saboxplugin-desc” readability=”13″><div itemprop=”description” readability=”21″><p>I’m a Caribbean – American writer and Army brat who calls New York home. After graduating from the University of Maryland with an English Literature degree, I worked as a counselor and educator for inner-city youth in D.C. and New York. My experience with young BIPOC’s helped me be a better listener, more empathetic, and attentive, and strengthened my storytelling abilities.</p>
<p>Currently, I work in media and advertising for an ad tech company and am a freelance copywriter and creator/host of the Truthis podcast. I love film, television, and am a Toni Morrison stan. My ultimate goal is to tell honest stories of marginalized people.</p>
<img class=”swp_hidden_pin_image swp-pinterest-image” src=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Globla-Village-Foods-Interview.pin_.png” data-pin-url=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/blog/global-village-foods-interview/” data-pin-media=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Globla-Village-Foods-Interview.pin_.png” alt=”How Global Village Foods Is Bringing African Cuisine to New England and Beyond: An Interview with Wangene Hall” data-pin-description=”How Global Village Foods Is Bringing African Cuisine to New England and Beyond: An Interview with Wangene Hall”>
<h3 class=”jp-relatedposts-headline”><em>Related</em></h3>
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 03:00:00 -0800 Asha Atkins

Helping Black and Brown Creators Monetize Their Content: An Interview with TipSnaps https://www.wealthnoir.com/blog/tipsnaps-interview/
<figure class=”wp-block-image size-large”><img loading=”lazy” width=”1024″ height=”572″ src=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/TipSnaps-Interview.blog_-1024×572.png” alt=”TipSnaps Interview” class=”wp-image-6415″ srcset=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/TipSnaps-Interview.blog_-1024×572.png 1024w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/TipSnaps-Interview.blog_-300×168.png 300w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/TipSnaps-Interview.blog_-768×429.png 768w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/TipSnaps-Interview.blog_-100×56.png 100w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/TipSnaps-Interview.blog_-340×191.png 340w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/TipSnaps-Interview.blog_.png 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”></figure>
<p><i><span>The following interview with TipSnaps was conducted over email and edited for flow and clarity.</span></i></p>
<p><b>Wealth Noir had the opportunity to talk with Lyonel Douge and Dr. Vic Boddie about their company TipSnaps. These men have one goal in mind—help their people make money from their content creations. Black and Brown people are constantly creating trends, styles, lingo etc. Essentially, they define the culture but are often ignored and rarely ever credited for it. Many of you may be familiar with the story of </b><a href=”https://www.teenvogue.com/story/after-addison-rae-backlash-jimmy-fallon-hosted-black-tiktok-dancers-the-tonight-show” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”><b>Jimmy Fallon having to right a wrong and bring on the TikTok dancers responsible for all the viral dance moves we see</b></a><b>, after he gave a white TikTok performer a platform to showcase moves that were created by young Black creatives. Examples like this are why both men are passionate about supporting Black and Brown creatives and making sure that they not only get the credit they deserve but the money, too!</b></p>

<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): </b><b>This is a very special interview for me for many reasons, mainly because we’ve known each other forever. Please share with the Wealth Noir community who you both are and your professional backgrounds.&nbsp;</b></p>
<p><b>Lyonel Douge, CEO and Dr. Vic Boddie, COO of TipSnaps: </b><span>Thanks, Asha! You all are doing amazing work at Wealth Noir and we’re very excited to discuss TipSnaps with you. Background I’m </span><span>Lyonel Dougé</span><span>, CEO/Founder of TipSnaps. I’m a Computer Engineer by training and I’ve worked at several Fortune 500 companies, such as Johnson &amp; Johnson, Sony, ESPN and Viacom. Dr. Vic Boddie joined us as Co-Founder/COO in 2020, and he brings a wealth of knowledge and experiences from a leadership and policy standpoint, working for years in a major government agency. So we both have a lot of previous experience that positions us well to build tech and lead dynamic and successful products and teams.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): I love that you both made the conscious choice to combine your skill sets to make this company thrive. Ok, so let’s talk about TipSnaps. What is TipSnaps, what inspired you to create it, and how did it move from being an idea to an actual product?&nbsp;</b></p>
<p><b>Lyonel Douge, CEO of TipSnaps: </b><span>TipSnaps started back in 2016. I was working full time at Johnson &amp; Johnson at the time building sites like johnsonsbaby.com or neutrogena.com. During lunch and bathroom breaks, I did what most people do — scrolled through Instagram. It was then I noticed something incredible: everyday people like hair and beauty experts, bartenders, fitness trainers, grew from zero to 100k followers on Instagram in 6-12 months time thanks to how deeply fans loved and supported their favorite creators. Sometime in 2016, it hit me. “People are going to pay for social media very soon”. Back in 2016, I KNEW that social media HAD to move in this direction. Premium content / exclusive content. ANYONE with creativity and an audience will and SHOULD be able to monetize their content and fanbase. Anywhere in the world. I realized how huge of an opportunity this was. I realized I could personally build a solid v1 of a platform myself. So I decided to dedicate nights and weekends to it.</span></p>
<p><span>Trouble securing capital was an understatement. I was screaming this at the top of my lungs to investors in 2018 that I bootstrapped to 100k users and $600k revenue. I got in front of First Round and Quake Capital and a few others in 2018, they were intrigued by the traction. But after my pitch, I was told “Influencer marketing is dead.” Also, generally, I don’t think they believed I accomplished what I was saying. I honestly think a few investors thought I was lying. Coming from a Blue collar background, first person in all extended family with an engineering degree working for big companies. I didn’t have a network of people who could help me figure out how to raise capital with silicon valley investors. I had no one to do a “friends and family” round. I was the person in my family people looked to for money, not the other way around. Even at JNJ, most folks are locked into their career path, not entrepreneurship. So this was a completely NEW endeavor. Luckily, there are way more resources online now than ever before. So, I read and read and read until I felt confident enough.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>I understood software and what communities NEEDED. This is how we grew so fast. However, it’s undeniable that in today’s world, you can be first to market but to truly scale, you need capital and access to industry insiders. In whatever sector. It’s very rare for an outsider to just make huge disruptive waves without access to capital or connections, both of which I tried hard to secure. But my skin tone didn’t help me. People were intrigued by the numbers but “never convinced.”</span></p>
<p><span>I built TipSnaps nights and weekends while holding my full time job at Johnson &amp; Johnson as Product Manager. We launched in March of 2017. I built the platform myself, I put a lot of effort into ensuring payment processing and KYC (know your customer), age verification, and compliance features were readily in place. For user acquisition, I literally started DM’ing people on Instagram who had a lot of followers. (LOL) Telling them, “Hey you could charge your fans for content. Create a page and just add the link in your bio.” Convincing one creator at a time. By April 2017, I had convinced one big creator with 1M followers to join TipSnaps. Once she started promoting her TipSnaps page, this led to a rapid network effect. It went viral in certain communities of content creators, specifically bartenders and fitness trainers. TipSnaps grew so rapidly bootstrapped because I recognized a gap/need for the internet that people were looking for but didn’t know they needed. This seemed obvious to me, but, looking back, I realize this hockey stick growth is specifically what VCs and investors want to invest in. However, they don’t typically trust a black man to execute it.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): </b><b>How has being a black founder and the son of immigrants helped fuel your passion for entrepreneurship?</b></p>
<p><b>Lyonel Douge, CEO of TipSnaps: </b><span>My family immigrated from Haiti in the 60s/70s. My parents moved to California in the 80s and they bought a home in the only place they could afford, San Bernardino, California (by some rankings the </span><a href=”https://www.sbsun.com/2019/12/02/san-bernardino-ranks-3rd-most-dangerous-u-s-city-irvine-is-safest-in-california/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”><span>3rd most dangerous city in the entire country</span></a><span>). I’m not proud of this, I say this to illustrate I was raised around people who generally saw success to mean graduating high school and not ending up dead or in jail. My dad worked as a mechanic but also opened his own used car sales business. It was never financially successful due to the grind of opening a small business, but also many of the same roadblocks I’m going through now with TipSnaps, just at a different level. He raised us on a salary of $25-30k/year and refused welfare but we never felt poor.</span></p>
<p><span>My parents, as many immigrant parents, instilled the value of education and hard work. I went the path of many like me, first generation Americans. I studied hard, got good grades / SAT scores and got an academic scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh. Moving from California to Pittsburgh was an experience all its own, but it opened my mind and prepared me for the next steps. After graduating from Pitt with a degree in Computer Engineering, I did the natural next step, got a job. I worked for a couple smaller media companies, which ultimately led to a move to NYC in 2008, and felt like I hit the pinnacle when I landed a job with Sony Music at 23 as a software engineer. The same went on for several years, working for other Fortune 500 companies such as Viacom, ESPN, the NFL, and, most recently, Johnson &amp; Johnson. What I realized along the way was that I had innovative ideas and concepts that I pitched to leadership but was never taken seriously. I couldn’t really actually accomplish anything innovative due to the bureaucratic nature of the huge organizations. I’ve always been treated as the token black guy who seems smart enough to be there but not smart enough to lead and be let into the inner sanctum.</span></p>
<p><span>There’s a quote from Shervin Pishevar (founder of Virgin Hyperloop and tech investor), “When you are denied access, build your own institution.” These types of messages have always resonated with me. So I’ve built this passion for entrepreneurship over many years due to seeing innovation happen around me but never being part of it. Having the conviction and ability to execute myself.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): I know a few talented people who are interested in creating content with the hopes of monetizing their creations. How do you explain to a potential user why TipSnaps is the right platform for them? What separates you from the competition?</b></p>
<p><b>Lyonel Douge, CEO and Dr. Vic Boddie, COO of TipSnaps: </b><span>At TipSnaps, we firmly believe that everyone is a Creator and therefore, everyone should have the ability to monetize any content. More importantly, there are so many talented individuals currently using platforms like YouTube, IG, Facebook, and TikTok to share their creative content but making no money; even the ones with massive followings and watch hours are only getting sprinkled the crumbs of the Ad-revenue that’s being generated from their great content. What we’ve seen at TipSnaps is that when a Creator uses their IG, TikTok, and other platforms as tools to drive their fan bases to their TipSnaps accounts, they typically can successfully make money. For example, if a Creator has a following of 100K on Instagram, and they leverage that following well, at bare minimum 1% of that following will subscribe to that creator’s TipSnaps page at $10 per month, that creator has the potential to make $10K per month. We’ve seen it happen, and so we’re excited for this opportunity that creators have to make money, and even more so excited for Black and Brown creators because they drive so much content on social media, but aren’t currently being compensated at all for that. This needs to change, they need to be making money right now and TipSnaps is the home for those creators!</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN):</b> <b>You two make an excellent point. Black and Brown creators are creating incredible content and yet are not getting the big sponsorship deals like their white counterparts. We are the culture drivers and yet are constantly left behind. I want to talk more about the logistics behind building an app. I’m sure many of our readers are or have considered building a platform or an app, but this is no easy feat. What are some things that you did to help you get TipSnaps to the place it is now?</b></p>
<p><b>Lyonel Douge, CEO and Dr. Vic Boddie, COO of TipSnaps: </b><span>Well to start off, and this isn’t being braggadocios, we are experts. We have computer science / software engineering backgrounds and also have worked for several fortune 500 companies building websites and software for over a decade, companies like Sony Music, Viacom and Johnson &amp; Johnson. You can absolutely build an app without having to do the same level of schooling and experience, however Tipsnaps really is more than an app. It’s a tech ecosystem combining social media, fintech (automated payouts and fraud management), compliance AI and moderation.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>We took our experience working in big tech and applied it to TipSnaps. We worked really hard to ensure the platform was scalable globally. Based on all of the functionalities, integration, and AI capabilities, the average company would need to invest $3-$5M just to build an equivalent platform. We worked tirelessly for over four years to get to where we are today.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>What I would say to entrepreneurs and young people with ambition in tech is to take some high level software engineering courses. Codeacadamy and Coursera offer a lot of great free resources.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): As Black men in this tech and data driven industry, what are some of the challenges or obstacles you faced, such as getting angel investors and venture capitalists to literally and figuratively buy into TipSnaps?</b></p>
<p><b>Lyonel Douge, CEO and Dr. Vic Boddie, COO of TipSnaps: </b><span>There are definitely many obstacles for Black Founders in tech from a funding perspective, that’s well documented. But what we’ve discovered that’s even more troubling is that the systemic issues of inequities in funding for Black Founders is much deeper and pervasive than we could’ve imagined. We typically have to show much more robust data and metrics to support our products / thesis than our white counterparts. Often with no product and no platform at all, our white counterparts get better funding terms than we do. We also typically do not have the same (or as impactful) institutional networks that our counterparts do, thus it’s even more of a struggle to not only get meetings with investors, but it’s even more difficult to convince them that we’re actually capable of growing a phenomenal business. There is just much less benefit of the doubt, and we have little margin for error. Definitely tough sledding for Black investors, but compared to what our ancestors went through, it’s a drop in the bucket and a challenge we’re willing to face head on.</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): While your initial clients are Black and Brown creators, you make it very clear that TipSnaps is a home where Everyone is a creator. Can you explain why that is? What do you mean you say ‘Everyone’ and why is that your tagline?</b></p>
<p><b>Lyonel Douge, CEO and Dr. Vic Boddie, COO of TipSnaps: </b><span>We feel that by explicitly saying we want to be the home for Black and Brown creators, it means that we’re making it clear that we’re a platform that’s striving to make the creator economy more inclusive and diverse. What we see now is other platforms acting like they’re supportive of all creators but their internal algorithms tell a different story. They don’t highlight creators of color, shut out creativity, and they will not highlight creators that don’t fit the ‘description’ of what they want their platform to represent. We </span><b>DO NOT</b><span> do this at TipSnaps. We want to create a safe and equitable space for all creators that are creating amazing content and driving culture, regardless of your race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, etc. We want you to feel welcomed and that you have a home. It’s very important to us, and we work very hard to build our brand and platform that looks like the diversity of our world and gives </span><b>ANY</b><span> and everyone the opportunity to make money and change their lives.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN):</b> <b>Thank you for sharing that and for being so intentional about your inclusivity. How do you stay ahead of the competition and also stay up to date with the latest in this creator economy industry?</b></p>
<p><b>Lyonel Douge, CEO and Dr. Vic Boddie, COO of TipSnaps: </b><span>As we stated above, as Black founders we can’t afford to get behind. We can’t afford to miss a beat. Therefore, we’re always in innovation mode, even as we’re driving users to our platform and educating them on the best methods to make money. But the one valuable position that we have over our competitors in this space is the fact that we know the community. Silicon valley led start-ups in the creator economy have a very ‘sophisticated’ and theoretical view of this economy. However, they’re not at the ground level like us, talking to creators in the streets, across multiple niches – engaging them directly to understand their needs and what will make their lives better. This is what we do better than anyone else, connect with the people. This is easy for us because we are them, we’re from the same communities and as Black Founders we speak their language. We wouldn’t have 440K registered users, and paid out over $2.2M to creators, if our message around equity and entrepreneurship wasn’t resonating with Creators in our community.</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): Beyond creating a home for creators, what do you hope TipSnaps will do for Black and Brown creators?</b></p>
<p><b>Lyonel Douge, CEO and Dr. Vic Boddie, COO of TipSnaps: </b><span>Make them some money, plain and simple! Black and Brown people are literally the primary drivers of all social media. From a cultural standpoint, we drive so much creativity and produce massive amounts of content and up to this point, Facebook, YouTube, IG and TikTok are making ALL of the money from this. And what’s even more upsetting is the fact that none of these platforms are owned by Black and Brown people, nor are we represented on any of their boards of directors. So all of the wealth that’s generated from OUR creativity is going right back to folks who don’t look like us or care about us. And our argument is that if they did care, they would make an effort to change this dynamic but they’re not. They’d prefer to throw us crumbs in the hopes of pacifying our voices, keeping us quiet so we’ll forget that we’re being exploited. But that time is over. Platforms like TipSnaps are here to support these creators. The time of them exploiting our creativity has come to an end, and TipSnaps will lead heavily in this space!</span></p>
<p><b>Thank you both again for spending time with us and sharing your immense passion to help shape and change the culture for Black and Brown creators. </b><b>You both have taken such an incredible product and are working to change the game for Black and Brown creators, which is inspiring and commendable. If you’re a content creator and want to join the creator revolution then check out TipSnaps at <a href=”https://tipsnaps.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>tipsnaps.com</a>!&nbsp; And don’t forget to follow them on Twitter and Instagram @<a href=”https://www.instagram.com/tipsnaps/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>tipsnaps</a>. </b></p>

<div class=”saboxplugin-wrap” itemtype=”http://schema.org/Person” itemscope itemprop=”author”><div class=”saboxplugin-tab”><div class=”saboxplugin-gravatar”><img src=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Asha-Atkins-Headshot-e1625500560559.jpg” width=”100″ height=”100″ alt itemprop=”image”></div><div class=”saboxplugin-desc” readability=”13″><div itemprop=”description” readability=”21″><p>I’m a Caribbean – American writer and Army brat who calls New York home. After graduating from the University of Maryland with an English Literature degree, I worked as a counselor and educator for inner-city youth in D.C. and New York. My experience with young BIPOC’s helped me be a better listener, more empathetic, and attentive, and strengthened my storytelling abilities.</p>
<p>Currently, I work in media and advertising for an ad tech company and am a freelance copywriter and creator/host of the Truthis podcast. I love film, television, and am a Toni Morrison stan. My ultimate goal is to tell honest stories of marginalized people.</p>
<img class=”swp_hidden_pin_image swp-pinterest-image” src=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/TipSnaps-Interview.pin_.png” data-pin-url=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/blog/tipsnaps-interview/” data-pin-media=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/TipSnaps-Interview.pin_.png” alt=”Helping Black and Brown Creators Monetize Their Content: An Interview with TipSnaps” data-pin-description=”Helping Black and Brown Creators Monetize Their Content: An Interview with TipSnaps”>
<h3 class=”jp-relatedposts-headline”><em>Related</em></h3>
Wed, 27 Oct 2021 03:00:00 -0700 Asha Atkins
The Journey

8 Ways to Improve Your Personal Finances https://www.wealthnoir.com/blog/steps-to-improve-your-personal-finances/
<figure class=”wp-block-image size-large”><img loading=”lazy” width=”1024″ height=”572″ src=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/8-Ways-to-Improve-Your-Personal-Finances.blog_-1024×572.png” alt=”8 Ways to Improve Your Personal Finances” class=”wp-image-6358″ srcset=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/8-Ways-to-Improve-Your-Personal-Finances.blog_-1024×572.png 1024w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/8-Ways-to-Improve-Your-Personal-Finances.blog_-300×168.png 300w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/8-Ways-to-Improve-Your-Personal-Finances.blog_-768×429.png 768w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/8-Ways-to-Improve-Your-Personal-Finances.blog_-100×56.png 100w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/8-Ways-to-Improve-Your-Personal-Finances.blog_-340×191.png 340w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/8-Ways-to-Improve-Your-Personal-Finances.blog_.png 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”></figure>
<p><span>Through my Financial Coaching practice with </span><a href=”https://financialgym.com/team/bevin-morgan” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”><span>The Financial Gym</span></a><span>, I’ve been able to work with hundreds of people from all different backgrounds. I have in-depth conversations with clients to learn their financial histories and future goals while creating comprehensive financial plans to help them achieve those goals. Through this work, I have started to notice a pattern. While all of my clients deal with the stress of paying off debt, updating their spending habits, and learning how best to save, I’ve noticed my Black clients have a particular sense of urgency. At some point with almost all of my Black clients, I end up having a conversation along the lines of, “Yeah, but what do I invest in to get this money faster?” or “Well, we don’t even be livin’ that long anyway, so why am I saving so much for the long-term?”&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>I don’t blame my clients for thinking this way. Considering that </span><a href=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/blog/part-1-racial-wealth-gap/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”><span>Black people hold about 10% the wealth as our white counterparts</span></a><span>, it makes sense that we would feel like we’re playing financial catch up. And, when the fact is </span><a href=”https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/21/us/american-life-expectancy-report.html” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”><span>our life expectancy is nearly six years shorter</span></a><span> than white people— it only makes sense to want to make hay while the sun shines. That said, there are proven steps to building wealth within our economic system. However, these methods are not flashy and typically don’t lead to getting fast money. But they’re simple and easy to implement, which means anyone can do them. If you’re someone who is serious about improving your personal finances then commit to following these eight steps. I promise you can’t go wrong.</span><b></b></p>
<h4><b>1. Take a step back to figure out what you need from life.</b></h4>
<p><span>Every successful life strategy starts with understanding your “why”. When it comes to your finances, that can mean many different things. Maybe that means being able to live on your own in a big city, having the financial stability to start a business, or being able to give your kids the opportunities you never had.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>Whatever it is that you need to make money for, it’s something beyond “not living paycheck to paycheck” and “having financial peace of mind.” Those two phrases are the results of getting your finances together, but they don’t speak to the underlying reason for your money. It’s crucial to understand what’s truly important in your life and to know that what you discover may have nothing to do with what your friends, family or society says is important.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>I have a client who realized she was trying to force her life to work in an expensive city. She was pushing her business to make as much money as possible while having no time for the luxury and leisure she craved. After finally taking a much-needed vacation, she realized she could conduct her business as a digital nomad. She sold her expensive possessions and now lives an emotionally richer but less expensive life. By getting clear on what is truly important for you, it will become easier to see the myriad of options that are available.&nbsp;</span><b></b></p>
<h4><b>2. Identify your spending triggers.</b></h4>
<p><span>Now that you know WHY you need money, it’s time to be brave and see where your money actually goes. Look at the last 90 days of your checking and credit card statements to identify patterns.&nbsp;</span></p>
<li><span>Look for the category where you spend the most money.</span></li>
<li><span>Identify the business or services you repeatedly spend money on.</span></li>
<li><span>Identify the expenses that are overpriced.</span></li>
<li><span>Identify where you spend on services that you don’t realize you’ve been spending money on.</span></li>
<p><b>Determine what is driving your behavior to spend. </b><span>Is it convenience, status, loneliness, boredom, something else? In my case, I noticed that I had spent money at Kroger over 20 times in ONE MONTH! In my defense, there is a Kroger literally a block from my house and we all have to eat right!? Admittedly, I was being lazy. I wasn’t planning my meals and creating a shopping list ahead of time. I had gotten into a pattern of making one-off trips that were leading me to overspend on groceries big time. </span><b>Fun fact: food is one of the biggest spending categories.</b></p>
<p><span>Once I figured out my spending trigger, I was able to create a strategy for cutting back on the expenses. In my case, it meant challenging myself to plan for one full week of meals, shopping only on Sunday, and getting creative with ingredients if I forgot to pick something up that week. Regardless of your spending trigger, you can find a more efficient way to spend in that category. Maybe it’s planning ahead like me. Maybe it’s disconnecting your credit card from the source (this is especially effective for places like Amazon). It could mean cancelling a service altogether or even avoiding a specific route to work or walking down a particular street.&nbsp;</span><b></b></p>
<h4><b>3. Expand your income options.</b></h4>
<p><span>Unfortunately, it’s not enough to have one source of income these days. At any point, one or more of our income streams can dissolve completely, but that won’t stop the bills from coming. For extra security, it’s important to develop additional streams of income. This can mean anything from taking on a second, part-time job to investing in dividend <a href=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/blog/trade-stocks-free/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>stocks</a> (only after you’ve completed items 4, 5 and 6 on this list).&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>These days, starting an online business is one of the most reliable ways to create passive income and can also come with <a href=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/blog/ways-to-invest-your-tax-refund/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>tax benefits</a> and additional opportunities to invest for your retirement in a tax-advantaged way. Just be sure to keep your business and personal finances separate so you don’t end up accidentally spending your grocery money on business expenses. Also, get realistic about how much you can earn in the business compared to how much you’re spending to keep it afloat so you don’t end up with an expensive hobby.</span></p>
<h4><b>4. Automate your savings.</b></h4>
<p><span>By addressing your top one or two spending triggers, you will create the surplus you need to start saving consistently without throwing off your budget or getting into trouble with over drafting. In fact, getting this step right is the heart of building wealth. What it all comes down to is creating a cash surplus by either spending less or earning more and then saving / investing the difference.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>To get started, determine an amount of money you feel comfortable automatically saving each paycheck. Even if it’s just $20, going through the trouble of creating this habit will make a HUGE difference. Next, open a high-yield savings account and have money direct-deposited from your paycheck or auto-drafted out of your checking account each pay period. You want this process to feel out-of-sight and out-of-mind so you will never miss the money.&nbsp;</span></p>
<h4><b>5. Prioritize your emergency fund.</b></h4>
<p><span>You may be tempted to start investing any extra money you come up with, but if you don’t have anything saved for emergencies, you’re frankly not ready for that step. Your emergency fund is the foundation of your financial health and future wealth. Starting to invest before you’ve saved anything is like trying to run a 100-meter dash before you’ve stretched. You might start off fast, but if you pull a muscle right before you cross the finish line, you’re still going to lose the race.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>I recommend that most of my clients have at least six months of expenses saved, but I recommend nine months for those who are self-employed. This usually equates to tens of thousands of dollars, which might feel like an extravagant amount of money to have sitting in a savings account that only earns .5 – 1% interest. I get it. But here’s the thing; life is extremely unpredictable. You never know when you might have to replace your car, suddenly fly to take care of a family member, or search for a new job because a global pandemic made yours unviable. As our world becomes more and more unpredictable, it becomes more crucial to have predictable funds to fall back on.&nbsp;</span></p>
<h4><b>6. Stop paying money to spend money.</b></h4>
<p><span>The other most crucial step before starting your investment journey is paying down high-interest <a href=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/blog/breaking-down-debt-good-bad-and-ok-debt/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>debt</a>. If you are paying more than 7% interest for any debt while actively investing in the stock market, you are hustling backwards. Over the long-term, the stock market has created a return of about 7% for the last 200+ years, so getting rid of debt where you’re paying interest higher than that is better than beating the stock market.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>First, figure out your credit card or loan that has the highest interest rate and start paying as much extra toward it that you can consistently afford. Even $10 above the minimum payment will help you start saving instantly. Be sure to automate this process to make it as easy as possible. Once you’ve paid the first card or loan, roll over the full extra payment to the next highest interest card or loan. Keep doing this until all of your high-interest debt is paid off. Credit can be a powerful wealth building tool, but only if you’re using it in a way where you’re not making hefty extra payments.</span></p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter wp-image-6392 size-large” title=”personal finances” src=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Happy-senior-couple-sitting-on-sofa-1024×682.jpg” alt=”Personal Finances” width=”1024″ height=”682″ srcset=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Happy-senior-couple-sitting-on-sofa-1024×682.jpg 1024w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Happy-senior-couple-sitting-on-sofa-300×200.jpg 300w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Happy-senior-couple-sitting-on-sofa-768×512.jpg 768w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Happy-senior-couple-sitting-on-sofa-1536×1024.jpg 1536w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Happy-senior-couple-sitting-on-sofa.jpg 2000w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”></p>
<h4><b>7. Think about “future you.”</b></h4>
<p><span>After you’ve paid off your high-interest debt and saved at least one month’s worth of expenses, it’s time to start thinking about your future. Because you likely won’t be earning income at some point in your later years, you will need to have a lot saved to be sure you can pay your bills. Unfortunately, the current working generation can’t rely on social security being abundant or even available, so it’s imperative that you start saving as soon as possible.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>The sooner you start saving, the less you need to put aside each month to reach your retirement goal. To find out how much you need to save each month, calculate your current total expenses for the month. Multiply that by 300 – the </span><a href=”https://lifehacker.com/the-basics-of-fire-financial-independence-and-early-re-1820129768″><span>F.I.R.E. multiplier</span></a><span> (4% withdrawal rate times 12 months). Enter this number into a retirement calculator that assumes you will be investing in an account that will earn you about 7% interest on average. Start automatically and consistently investing that amount of money into a highly diversified, low cost fund.</span></p>
<p><span>Here are the steps I recommend for building your retirement savings:&nbsp;</span></p>
<li aria-level=”1″><span>Invest in your company’s 401(k) up to your employer match (if you have one).</span></li>
<li aria-level=”1″><span>Invest the maximum $6,000 per year into a Roth IRA.</span></li>
<li aria-level=”1″><span>Invest the maximum $3,600 allowed into an HSA (if you have one).&nbsp;</span></li>
<li aria-level=”1″><span>Start a business that allows you to invest in a self-employed retirement plan.&nbsp;</span></li>
<li aria-level=”1″><span>Invest in a taxable investment account if you still need to save more toward your retirement.&nbsp;</span></li>
<h4><b>8. Do all of the other things next.</b></h4>
<p><span>Once you have established these pillars of financial health:&nbsp;</span></p>
<li><span>Automated your savings.</span></li>
<li><span>Built your emergency fund.</span></li>
<li><span>Decreased your high-interest debt.</span></li>
<li><span>Automated your retirement savings.</span></li>
<p><span>You are ready to do all of the other things. We tend to want to rush to the big money millions without putting our financial foundation in place first, but that’s a mistake. Take the time to build a strong financial foundation so you can continue to build the rest of your wealth as large and elaborately as you like.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>Once you have established yourself financially, you’ll be in a place to more quickly and efficiently do things like: buy a home, invest in unique assets and business opportunities, start higher risk businesses that require more up front capital, and save for future generations.</span></p>
<p><span>For most millionaires, building wealth is a slow and boring process. The reason that we mostly hear wealth building stories about genius entrepreneurs and amazing stock market picks is because those are great stories. There is frankly nothing exciting about opening a high-yield savings account and consistently saving into a tax-advantaged retirement fund. However, that doesn’t change the fact that these are great ways to manage your money.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>Yes, it is absolutely possible to earn high returns on speculative investments like cryptocurrency and forex and anything else you’ve seen pitched on Instagram. However, the operative word here is </span><i><span>speculative</span></i><span>. None of these investments come with a guarantee and if you don’t have the money to lose, these are not investments you’re ready to take on.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>While the world is changing quickly, when it comes to building wealth it’s the tried and true path that I see working most often. Good luck on your journey!</span></p>

<p><em><span>Bevin Morgan is a </span><a href=”https://financialgym.com/team/bevin-morgan” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”><span>Financial Trainer at The Financial Gym</span></a><span> who has paid off over $200K in debt to become debt free. She is a real estate investor and self-proclaimed personal finance nerd. She specializes in helping Black female entrepreneurs and creators gain confidence in their financial futures with a touch of woo woo. </span></em><em><span>She is on a personal mission to help bridge the racial wealth gap in this country. Black families hold less than 10% the average wealth of white families. Instilling financial confidence in Black women is one small step she’s taking to help change that.&nbsp;</span></em></p>
<p><em><span>Find her at </span><a href=”http://www.bevinmorgan.me” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”><span>www.bevinmorgan.me</span></a><span> or on Instagram, @bevinmorgan.</span></em></p>
<img class=”swp_hidden_pin_image swp-pinterest-image” src=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/8-Ways-to-Improve-Your-Personal-Finances.pin_.png” data-pin-url=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/blog/steps-to-improve-your-personal-finances/” data-pin-media=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/8-Ways-to-Improve-Your-Personal-Finances.pin_.png” alt=”8 Ways to Improve Your Personal Finances” data-pin-description=”8 Ways to Improve Your Personal Finances”>
<h3 class=”jp-relatedposts-headline”><em>Related</em></h3>
Wed, 13 Oct 2021 03:00:00 -0700 Guest Contributor
Guest Post
Personal Finance
Self-Care & Planning
The Tools
Wealth Matters
I’m Eating
I’m Good
personal finances

How to Be an Investor in the Cannabis and Wellness Space: An Interview with Jerel Registre, Curio WMBE Fund https://www.wealthnoir.com/blog/interview-jerel-registre/
<figure class=”wp-block-image size-large”><img loading=”lazy” width=”1024″ height=”572″ src=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Jerel-Registre-Interview.blog_-1024×572.png” alt=”Jerel Registre – Curio WMBE Fund” class=”wp-image-6331″ srcset=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Jerel-Registre-Interview.blog_-1024×572.png 1024w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Jerel-Registre-Interview.blog_-300×168.png 300w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Jerel-Registre-Interview.blog_-768×429.png 768w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Jerel-Registre-Interview.blog_-100×56.png 100w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Jerel-Registre-Interview.blog_-340×191.png 340w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Jerel-Registre-Interview.blog_.png 1201w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”></figure>
<p><i><span>The following conversation was conducted over email and edited for flow and clarity.</span></i></p>
<p><span>For the second installment of our exciting <a href=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/blog/jerel-registre-interview/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>interview with Jerel Registre</a>, he takes a deeper dive into the cannabis industry and the ways in which Black and Brown people have been ostracized from monetarily capitalizing in this space. This is particularly important because he provides a brief education on state programs and how to work around limiting structures, and is transparent about the challenges that come with working in this industry.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN):</b> <b>In an interview with </b><b><i>Franchise Times, </i></b><b>you said, “Within the cannabis industry, there are various structures in place&nbsp;that are intended to skirt or pretend to address diversity but really are an avenue for a different group to acquire a license.”&nbsp; Can you talk more about that? What are some of those structures?&nbsp;</b></p>
<p><b>Jerel Registre, Managing Director, Curio WMBE Fund: </b><span>State programs and their regulators are getting better at identifying efforts by unscrupulous actors to gain an advantage in what can be significantly competitive licensing processes. In the past, there have been instances where the majority owners (diverse individuals) of a cannabis business license did not receive economic benefit in line with their ownership. There are more ways to attempt to ‘dupe’ the application process than can be listed out.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): How do you advise people affected by those limiting structures to work around the limitations?</b></p>
<p><b>Jerel Registre, Managing Director, Curio WMBE Fund: </b><span>A few recommendations to understand if a partnership is designed to take advantage of a diverse person’s ability to qualify, but not allow them to benefit proportionately are:&nbsp;</span></p>
<li aria-level=”1″><span>Understand who receives the most money for their involvement in the business. How does this compare to the ownership structure of the business?</span></li>
<li aria-level=”1″><span>Do the diverse owners presented as the face of the business have managerial control?</span></li>
<li aria-level=”1″><span>How do the operating agreement and other corporate documents provide for transitions in ownership over time? Does one group of owners have the ability to remove another?</span></li>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): Thank you for that. I believe that our readers who are new to this will find that useful. Oftentimes, the lack of exposure and knowledge can affect our ability to be successful in this space. Speaking of this space, it’s clear you’re incredibly passionate about the work you do and, while the work is important and revolutionary, I imagine you have your fair share of challenges. Can you share what some of those challenges are and how you overcome them?</b></p>
<p><b>Jerel Registre, Managing Director, Curio WMBE Fund: </b><span>Thanks, I am passionate about our growing industry. I’m excited about playing a role in the growing ability of patients and consumers to gain access to products that safely improve their quality of life. Most personally, I am most driven by the Fund’s ability to create entrepreneurial and investment opportunities for diverse individuals. As entrepreneurs, diverse people tend to have a more difficult time raising capital, which means more of their energy is spent sourcing capital than focusing on building and growing their business. From an investment perspective, diverse people are not as well represented as they should be within the private equity community, either as investors who benefit from the incredible opportunity the asset class represents or as investment professionals who allocate capital to entrepreneurs.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>In terms of the challenges I’ve personally faced in the cannabis industry, they’ve mostly fallen into two buckets: first, regulatory complexity and, second, clearly communicating how compelling the opportunity to invest in diverse entrepreneurship can be in the cannabis industry.</span></p>
<p><span>On the regulatory side, to accomplish our goal of investing in franchised cannabis dispensaries, we’ve developed an innovative solution that touches three highly regulated industries; finance, franchising and cannabis. Each possesses significant regulatory oversight to ensure the rights of the various stakeholders (investors, franchisees, cannabis consumers/patients) are protected. It has taken more than two years to establish this offering in a way that balances the various regulatory requirements of each to bring this opportunity to market.</span></p>
<p><span>On the communication side, one of the most frequent questions I receive is related to the thesis of the Fund itself. Investors often want to understand if our commitment to increasing the diversity of the cannabis industry will interfere with our ability to generate financial return. This is an honest concern asked by all my investors, including those from diverse backgrounds. Helping investors to understand the reason they’ve not seen more successful diverse entrepreneurs is because this group is more likely to be overlooked when seeking capital can be a delicate conversation. Fortunately, most investors are focused on the facts that support this reality and appreciate a straightforward conversation about how the Fund is structured to make our solution to the dearth of capital access a profitable and repeatable process.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): Within the past few years, the legalization of marijuana in this country has become increasingly high (no pun intended). While that is true, there are still misconceptions about the positive impact of marijuana. What are some that you hear constantly and what is your response to them?</b></p>
<p><b>Jerel Registre, Managing Director, Curio WMBE Fund: </b><span>Awareness of the mischaracterization of cannabis as a dangerous product is growing faster than the industry forecasted even as recently as five years ago. The misconceptions I am most concerned about stem from supporters of the industry who, often with the best intentions, oversell the benefits of cannabis by claiming it is a cure-all treatment.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>There is a growing body of research that documents a wide variety of positive uses for cannabis that play a role in improving an individual’s quality of life in areas like mental health, sleep and pain management. Allowing cannabis to thrive within well researched use cases will have an enormously valuable impact, both to consumers and the businesses that best serve their needs.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): Earlier this year, you were interviewed by Black Enterprise and you mentioned there’s a need for talent in the cannabis industry. How does someone position themselves to do that, especially with minimal exposure or knowledge?</b></p>
<p><b>Jerel Registre, Managing Director, Curio WMBE Fund: </b><span>As cannabis matures as an industry, it’s important to recognize that individual businesses make up the industry. All the roles and responsibilities that exist within a corporation or small business are now in great demand within cannabis companies. If you have a skill set that helps a business grow or run smoothly, you have a skill set that is applicable in the industry.</span></p>
<p><span>From an employment perspective, companies need marketers, finance and accounting expertise, human capital experts, IT leaders, supply chain managers, and many of the other functional areas that a corporate entity needs to grow and organize the business.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>Within the operations of cannabis companies, there is enormous demand for functional expertise in retail, agriculture, manufacturing, chemistry and logistics, depending on what part of the industry a given business serves. My favorite example of a skillset that translated well to a manufacturing role at Curio is restaurant cooks and chefs who have been very successful making our manufactured products – like medicated chews – because of their ability to produce products consistently over time.</span></p>
<p><span>From a business ownership standpoint, there is significant opportunity to sell products and services into the industry. If your business serves the business-to-business market, there are often customers for you in the cannabis industry, particularly if your business is in competition with large national firms. Larger companies have been slower to transact with the industry because of the federal prohibition, so smaller firms have an opportunity to build relationships now while the market is underserved.</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): What advice would you give to our readers who are solely&nbsp;interested in investing in this industry? Do you need to be a cannabis enthusiast to be a successful investor?</b></p>
<p><b>Jerel Registre, Managing Director, Curio WMBE Fund: </b><span>Thanks for this question, I think about it everyday. You do not have to be a cannabis enthusiast to successfully invest in the industry. The state based fragmentation of the industry makes it difficult to invest based on an enthusiast’s view of the marketplace. It would require significant effort to stay abreast of product developments in states you do not visit frequently.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>Investing in cannabis is more like investing in other fast-growing industries than most believe. Taking time to learn the basic industry structure is the first step and then learning about the industry’s players and developments by following the news coverage is the right path to becoming knowledgeable about the space.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>The biggest difference is how important it is to maintain awareness of the regulatory environment at the state and federal levels, as well as internationally, if you are interested in Canadian listed public cannabis companies. The pace of regulatory change is swift in cannabis and many companies, particularly the publicly listed Canadian stocks, react significantly to regulatory news.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>If you are seeking private investments, like the Curio WMBE Fund, it is important to meet people in the industry and share your interest in identifying attractive opportunities. Discuss the industry and any opportunities you find with your financial advisor or find others who have the expertise to evaluate the merits of a specific investment opportunity. Remember to balance the expectations for financial return against your liquidity needs and the overall risk of the investment. Oftentimes, private investments are illiquid, meaning it is difficult to sell the investment until a triggering event happens with the company or fund in which you’ve invested. It is important to understand the structure and features of the investment because even</span> <span>the best prospective investment may only be suitable for some investors.</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): </b><b>Are there any exciting products or offerings you have coming up? Anything you are currently working on now?&nbsp;</b></p>
<p><b>Jerel Registre, Managing Director, Curio WMBE Fund: </b><span>There is a lot to be excited about at the Fund and Curio in the upcoming months. We are preparing for the official launch of the franchise opportunity during the fourth quarter of 2021! We’ve refreshed the branding for the franchises and are excited to unveil what will be an exciting and energetic look and feel for both prospective franchisees and their patients/customers. For those following the industry more closely, the Curio team will be exhibiting at MJBizCon, another large industry conference in October.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>As the brand is launched, we will roll out the franchise opportunity across selected states with attractive cannabis programs, with a particular focus on states with upcoming licensing opportunities. Please reach out if you are interested in learning more about either the Fund investment opportunity or about the process of becoming an owner/operator of one of our franchises!</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): </b><b>Jerel, thank you so much for your time with Wealth Noir. Where can our readers find you if they want to learn more about Curio WMBE Fund?</b></p>
<p><b>Jerel Registre, Managing Director, Curio WMBE Fund: </b><span>Please feel free to reach out to me directly at j</span><a href=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/cdn-cgi/l/email-protection#fa909f889f96d4889f9d93898e889fba998f8893958d9f9696949f8989d4999597″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”><span><span class=”__cf_email__” data-cfemail=”ec899e8980c29e898b859f989e89ac8f999e85839b89808082899f9fc28f8381″>[email&nbsp;protected]</span></span></a><span>; (954) 347-1843) or connect on my Linkedin </span><a href=”https://www.linkedin.com/in/jregistre/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”><span>profile</span></a><span>.&nbsp;</span></p>

<div class=”saboxplugin-wrap” itemtype=”http://schema.org/Person” itemscope itemprop=”author”><div class=”saboxplugin-tab”><div class=”saboxplugin-gravatar”><img src=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Asha-Atkins-Headshot-e1625500560559.jpg” width=”100″ height=”100″ alt itemprop=”image”></div><div class=”saboxplugin-desc” readability=”13″><div itemprop=”description” readability=”21″><p>I’m a Caribbean – American writer and Army brat who calls New York home. After graduating from the University of Maryland with an English Literature degree, I worked as a counselor and educator for inner-city youth in D.C. and New York. My experience with young BIPOC’s helped me be a better listener, more empathetic, and attentive, and strengthened my storytelling abilities.</p>
<p>Currently, I work in media and advertising for an ad tech company and am a freelance copywriter and creator/host of the Truthis podcast. I love film, television, and am a Toni Morrison stan. My ultimate goal is to tell honest stories of marginalized people.</p>
<img class=”swp_hidden_pin_image swp-pinterest-image” src=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Jerel-Registre-Interview.pin_-1.png” data-pin-url=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/blog/interview-jerel-registre/” data-pin-media=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Jerel-Registre-Interview.pin_-1.png” alt=”How to Be an Investor in the Cannabis and Wellness Space: An Interview with Jerel Registre, Curio WMBE Fund” data-pin-description=”How to Be an Investor in the Cannabis and Wellness Space: An Interview with Jerel Registre, Curio WMBE Fund”>
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Supporting Diversity in the Cannabis Industry & Private Equity Investing: An Interview with Jerel Registre https://www.wealthnoir.com/blog/jerel-registre-interview/
<figure class=”wp-block-image size-large”><img loading=”lazy” width=”1024″ height=”572″ src=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Jerel-Registre-Interview-Part-I.blog_-1024×572.png” alt=”Jerel Registre Interview” class=”wp-image-6306″ srcset=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Jerel-Registre-Interview-Part-I.blog_-1024×572.png 1024w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Jerel-Registre-Interview-Part-I.blog_-300×168.png 300w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Jerel-Registre-Interview-Part-I.blog_-768×429.png 768w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Jerel-Registre-Interview-Part-I.blog_-100×56.png 100w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Jerel-Registre-Interview-Part-I.blog_-340×191.png 340w, https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Jerel-Registre-Interview-Part-I.blog_.png 1201w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”></figure>
<p><i><span>The following conversation was conducted over email and edited for flow and clarity.</span></i></p>
<p><span>We had the opportunity to chat with Jerel Registre, Managing Director of Curio WMBE Fund, to learn about private equity investing through the Cannabis and Wellness space. This interview was filled with so much valuable information that we had to break it up into two parts. In this first installment, we cover what private equity investing looks like, how Curio Wellness Center is taking up necessary space in the Cannabis industry, and how Jerel got started in this industry and his goals for the future.</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): </b><strong>Thank you, Jerel, for taking time to talk with us at Wealth Noir. I’m excited to dive right into this conversation. We would like our community members to get to know you better. Can you tell us about yourself?</strong></p>

<p><b>Jerel Registre, Managing Director, Curio WMBE Fund: </b><span>My name is Jerel Registre, I am the Managing Director of the Curio WMBE Fund based in Baltimore, MD. The Curio WMBE Fund is a private equity fund created to provide diverse entrepreneurs (women, BIPOC and disabled veterans) access to capital in order to establish clinically focused cannabis dispensaries in many of the most attractive state cannabis programs. I work in close partnership with Curio Wellness, Maryland’s leading Medical Cannabis Wholesaler, to support diverse entrepreneurs who aim to establish cannabis dispensaries through Curio’s innovative franchise model.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN):</b><strong> For those who don’t know, can you provide a general understanding of what private equity investing means and how it works?</strong></p>
<p><b>Jerel Registre, Managing Director, Curio WMBE Fund: </b><span>Private equity, at its most broad, is a way for <a href=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/blog/investment-options-for-accredited-investor/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>investors</a> to supply capital directly to companies or entrepreneurial endeavors that are either too new, risky or complex to be available via the public markets like the New York Stock Exchange. Generally, a private equity investment is an agreement between a company (or an entrepreneur with an idea for a company) that needs capital to grow and an investor or fund seeking to participate in the financial gain of that growing business by owning a piece of the company.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>There are many ways these investments can be structured that accommodate the needs of investors and the companies that receive investment. Typically, all but the largest private equity funds will have a particular area(s) of expertise that dictates what and how they invest. A few of these dimensions include specific industry, company size, business phase (startup, growth, turnaround), or security type (direct equity, convertible debt, other structured securities). Many times, a fund will establish a mandate or thesis based on several or all of these dimensions.</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN):&nbsp;</b><strong>Tell us how you got into the medical marijuana business, specifically as the managing director of Curio WMBE Fund.</strong></p>
<p><b>Jerel Registre, Managing Director, Curio WMBE Fund: </b><span>I began working in the cannabis industry in February of 2019 when Michael Bronfein, the CEO of Curio Wellness, asked me to partner with him to create a funding mechanism to remove the access to capital barrier that is often cited as a leading cause of the lack of diversity among cannabis business owners. I’d met Michael earlier in my career when he hired me to work with the portfolio companies of Sterling Partners, a large private equity fund he’d co-founded, and served at the lead for the healthcare services investing team. While with Sterling, I worked as a finance consultant for the companies in which Sterling invested, helping with capital allocation decisions and other strategic issues tied to driving the financial performance of the companies.</span></p>
<p><span>Joining the cannabis industry as I did, to create the Curio WMBE Fund, is a great illustration of how broad the need is for all manner of business skill sets in the industry. I frequently speak to people about how best to ‘get their foot in the door’ and I always respond with a question about what work they are doing now or what skill set they are able to bring to any growing company/industry. The cannabis industry has a tremendous need for all manner of professional talents from finance to marketing to agriculture and supply chain management.</span></p>
<p><span>In reflecting on why I was excited to join the industry, having worked in private equity for several years, I saw the Curio WMBE Fund as a way to have an impact on both the growing cannabis industry and private equity. Both have well documented challenges promoting diversity. On the cannabis side, limits to traditional banking services, and, importantly, the structural challenges tied to cannabis’s problematic regulatory history, create a need for a dedicated mechanism to promote business ownership by diverse individuals in the space.</span></p>
<p><span>From a private equity standpoint, the industry is just beginning to acknowledge the disparities that exist in who receives private investment. Crunchbase, a tech and venture capital focused website, estimates that <a href=”https://www.wired.com/story/venture-capital-2020-still-really-white/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>one percent of all VC funding goes to diverse entrepreneurs</a></span><span>. A driving cause of the lack of investment in diverse founders and entrepreneurs, according to Morgan Stanley’s 2019 report “Beyond the Funding Gap,”</span><span> is the lack of diverse investment professionals and VC funds’ lack of diverse Limited Partners</span><span>. In a general sense, diverse entrepreneurs and founders have difficulty securing investment from private equity funds because they don’t have enough in common with the gatekeepers to these sources of capital.</span></p>
<p><span>The Fund represents an opportunity to support talented, diverse cannabis entrepreneurs who, until now, have struggled to identify adequate capital sources to build successful businesses. The Fund directly addresses both sides of the diversity challenge in private equity. As we raised the funds to invest in diversely owned businesses, we took extra care to seek investments from diverse sources of capital. Both in the cannabis industry and the broader investing community, this is important as we look to ensure that diverse people benefit financially from growth in the industry.</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN):</b><strong> How is Curio WMBE Fund structured as a private equity investment?</strong></p>
<p><b>Jerel Registre, Managing Director, Curio WMBE Fund: </b><span>The Curio WMBE Fund is structured to only invest in cannabis dispensaries franchised by Curio Wellness and owned by diverse franchisees. The Fund provides capital via a combination of equity and debt financing that is structured to support the launch of the franchise and, over the course of 3-6 years, generate an attractive return for investors and transition the diverse franchisee to 100% ownership of the business.</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): </b><b>What is the most common question you get asked or you see come across from investors interested in private equity investing?</b></p>
<p><b>Jerel Registre, Managing Director, Curio WMBE Fund: </b><span>Maybe the most frequent question I receive is about prioritization. How do we balance our commitment to supporting diverse entrepreneurs with our fundamental goal of generating strong financial return for our investors? Personally, I love this question because it cuts straight to what will make the Fund successful.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>As a Fund Manager, I bear an explicit responsibility to be a steward of my investors’ capital. My primary objective is to successfully select and manage investments on their behalf to both protect and grow their investment dollars. I believe the best way to do that is to invest in talented, diverse founders looking to build successful dispensaries in partnership with Curio’s franchise opportunity. I believe this for three main reasons:</span></p>
<li aria-level=”1″><span>States are increasingly focused on identifying capable diverse business owners to prioritize in licensing.</span></li>
<li aria-level=”1″><span>The franchise model provides a level of support that enables entrepreneurs to focus on growing their business while leveraging the proven business systems that Curio has developed since the inception of the Maryland cannabis program. The Curio Franchise Services team has more than 100 years of retail/franchise experience concentrated in relevant industries like pharmacy, nutrition and consumer retail.</span></li>
<li aria-level=”1″><span>The Fund’s partnership as a source of capital ensures these talented entrepreneurs are able to launch and grow businesses successfully.</span></li>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN):</b><strong> Curio Wellness is the largest cultivator and manufacturer of cannabis products in Maryland. Share with us how the company was able to achieve that.</strong></p>
<p><b>Jerel Registre, Managing Director, Curio WMBE Fund: </b><span>Curio Wellness has been able to position itself well through a strong commitment to its brand promise of delivering ”safe, effective and reliable” treatments to patients throughout the Maryland market. It drives everything from the marketing and product innovation teams to the operations and logistics of predictably making products available to our dispensary retailers that consistently meet or exceed our incredible commitment to quality.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>Curio Wellness is one of a select subset within the cannabis industry – and the only wholesaler in Maryland – to have obtained cGMP Certification, the quality standard required by the FDA for food and drug manufacturing. That means that all of our equipment, ingredients and operational processes are designed to ensure the safety and quality of the products produced by our facility.</span></p>
<p><b>Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): </b><strong>Part of the Curio Wellness mission is to create investment opportunities for diverse entrepreneurs. Why is this important to the brand? How do you define “diverse” in this case and in what ways are you working to accomplish this goal?&nbsp;</strong></p>
<p><b>Jerel Registre, Managing Director, Curio WMBE Fund: </b><span>Before I joined Curio to work on the Fund, Michael Bronfein, Curio’s CEO, and I sat down to talk about the lack of diversity among business owners in the cannabis industry with one of our key investors, Theo Rodgers. Theo is a long time real estate developer and friend of Michael’s with a lifetime of experience in company and institutional governance (he’s sat on the Board of Directors for public companies and institutions like Johns Hopkins Medical School). As they talked about solutions to the challenges that were becoming increasingly apparent, they recognized that legislation and regulations were only part of the solution to enabling more diverse entrepreneurs to establish businesses and find success in the industry. So they decided to put their money where their mouths were and partner with others who believed like we do that diverse entrepreneurs are more than capable of building thriving businesses and that solving for the lack of investment may indeed represent an opportunity for exceptional investment return. That return would accrue to investors, entrepreneurs, and the communities where the businesses are located.</span></p>
<p><span>The cannabis industry as a whole also benefits from a more diverse marketplace by leaving behind its difficult past that, to say the least, treated diverse people poorly and adding diverse voices to its ranks that are able to represent the interests and needs of the communities served by our industry.</span></p>

<p><b>As Jerel mentioned, diversity </b><b><i>is</i></b><b> a necessary component for a thriving business. While Black and Brown people are perpetually not included in conversations where cannabis can prove financially beneficial, in part two of our conversation, he shares the ways in which our community can play a role by investing in the cannabis and wellness industry, tips for investing, resources, and expected challenges.&nbsp;</b></p><div class=”saboxplugin-wrap” itemtype=”http://schema.org/Person” itemscope itemprop=”author”><div class=”saboxplugin-tab”><div class=”saboxplugin-gravatar”><img src=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Asha-Atkins-Headshot-e1625500560559.jpg” width=”100″ height=”100″ alt itemprop=”image”></div><div class=”saboxplugin-desc” readability=”4.9395376407825″><div itemprop=”description” readability=”7.9792531120332″><p>I’m a Caribbean – American writer and Army brat who calls New York home. After graduating from the University of Maryland with an English Literature degree, I worked as a counselor and educator for inner-city youth in D.C. and New York. My experience with young BIPOC’s helped me be a better listener, more empathetic, and attentive, and strengthened my storytelling abilities.</p>
<p>Currently, I work in media and advertising for an ad tech company and am a freelance copywriter and creator/host of the Truthis podcast. I love film, television, and am a Toni Morrison stan. My ultimate goal is to tell honest stories of marginalized people.</p>
<img class=”swp_hidden_pin_image swp-pinterest-image” src=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Jerel-Registre-Interview.pin_.png” data-pin-url=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/blog/jerel-registre-interview/” data-pin-media=”https://www.wealthnoir.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Jerel-Registre-Interview.pin_.png” alt=”Supporting Diversity in the Cannabis Industry &amp; Private Equity Investing: An Interview with Jerel Registre” data-pin-description=”Supporting Diversity in the Cannabis Industry &amp; Private Equity Investing: An Interview with Jerel Registre”>
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