For many Black Americans, travel has long been an odd-defying act of resistance. While we travel for luxury and leisure, there are many nuances to the Black travel experience. For some, travel is a way to create new realities outside of the widely traumatic and often fatal truths we face at home. Though we carry our identities with us everywhere we go, the continuous witnessing of brutality against Black bodies may be reason enough to seek both safe spaces and international opportunities.
Audacity Festival — created by Nomadness Travel Tribe founder Evita Robinson — is a festival for travelers of color that speaks to the desire of Black travelers to use travel as a means of change. With COVID-19 forcing the cancellation of countless events, Audacity Fest nimbly pivoted to Audacity Digi — a series of interactive, online events. On August 1, the second volume of Audacity Digi took place giving Black travel enthusiasts insight into the tools necessary to use travel as a means of liberation. This edition of the conference spoke to making long-term investments abroad for the sake of generational wealth and residual income — something many Black folks, particularly Audacity’s millennial audience, are becoming interested in.
If you missed out on the conference, here’s how Audacity Digi’s experts inspire us to create new realities through travel.
Travel for generational wealth building
It’s no secret that Black folks are systematically disenfranchised, so opportunities and tools for building generational wealth aren’t widespread in our communities. Audacity Digi’s “How International Travel Influences Business Decisions” panel addressed these disparities head on. International investors with experience in various industries like real estate, agriculture, and blockchain technology spoke about making investing abroad a reality.
Keenan Beasley, founder of Venture Noire and KuKua, spoke about gaining financial freedom and generational wealth by investing in agriculture in countries like Colombia. Beasley stressed the importance he finds in working with Afro-Colombians to provide opportunities for Black, indigenous farmers throughout the diaspora. His work tackles the barriers that stop Black folks from farming, such as financial resources and infrastructure, and he considers agriculture a great entryway into international investing.
When asked why he thinks it’s crucial to invest in Black businesses, Beasley said, “Black culture was the incubator for the world, but there was no incubator for Black culture. So I knew I had to do something.”
Panelists Yahya Bey — a Thailand-based cryptocurrency, real estate, and wellness investor — brought his knowledge of purchasing a hostel and a wellness training business to the table. Bey’s expertise in the cryptocurrency space also taught viewers that blockchain technology is currently one of the greatest wealth-builders.
Serita Braxton, author and real estate investor, talked about closing on her first residential property. Braxton’s journey began as a vacation to Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. Instead of investing in mainland Spain as she initially thought, she used her vacation to scope out prospective properties. Braxton plans to reside on the property but will turn the home into a rental property in the future.
Xavier Owona, the CEO of Black Voyageurs, uses his passion for Africa, specifically Cameroon and Senegal, to fuel his commercial real estate investments. Though he is investing for financial freedom, he also sees his business as a way to directly contribute to the growth and development of Cameroon’s economy. He described the investment opportunities he finds in African countries as a rewarding way for the diaspora to help build our ancestral lands rather than the majority-white investors who currently occupy this space.
Though investing abroad can be fruitful, there are many logistical and financial hurdles the panelists shared. Thailand requires having a Thai national as your business partner. If you’re seeking permanent residency in Spain, you must purchase a property of at least 350,000 euros.
No matter the country, Beasley recommends always partnering with someone to ensure local ownership. In Cameroon, a cash-heavy country, Xavier suggests having currency onhand or using a service like Transferwise to make money transfers easier. Though travel is currently complicated, when asked if visiting investment properties in person was a must-do, all panelists nodded to on-the-ground visits as key to any successful venture.
Investing in a future abroad
Destination Own, a collective of international real estate agents, helps match potential homeowners with global properties. Audacity Digi spoke with Janell Muhammad, CEO of Destination Own, about how travel enthusiasts can use homeownership to live in destinations like Ghana, South Africa, Mexico, and Colombia.
From property taxes to cultural norms, the company pairs prospective movers with locals who can give them a realistic view of their proposed country’s daily life. The Black-owned company digs deeper than tourism and guides potential buyers through immersive real estate tours in their countries of interest and local activities to aid in the decision-making process.
With particular caveats like cash-preferred countries, such as Ghana, Muhammad recommends preparing to pay for some property mortgages upfront. On the more accessible end of life abroad, Mexico could be a top option for Black travelers looking to leap abroad. The culture-rich country has lenient immigration rules while being affordable and close in proximity to the US.
Muhammad shared that she is often asked about the safety concerns from Black folks interested in living overseas and leaving the US. She urged people to note that safety is relative and that although, of course, there are some countries that are more dangerous, many are generally safe.
Living as an expat post COVID-19
Beyond financial pursuits, travel can be a necessary means of refuge for Black American travelers. At Audacity Digi, viewers heard from the tourism boards of Dubai, Barbados, and Seychelles. These countries are viable options for the Black traveler looking for a change of scenery.
A few weeks ago, Barbados’ tourism board announced its 12-month Welcome Stamp — an initiative to bring post-COVID-19 tourism dollars back to the island using digital nomads. The board expressed that the remote-work friendly visa will serve as a way to reinvest tourism funds into their economy — by allowing expats to live there without taking work opportunities from Barbadian people. For Black travelers who are currently working remotely, the Welcome Stamp visa may be a great option to create a new living reality outside of the US and in a Black-majority country.
For those looking to venture further, Dubai’s tourism board cited its recently open borders, existing Black expat culture, and the well-paved road to residency as reasons to move to the UAE country. From teachers to real estate investors, plenty of Black folks already call Dubai home, so there is already a welcoming community. Groups like Black Women’s Club DXB and many others exist in the thriving capital city.
And if low COVID-19 cases, a diverse population, and idyllic scenery sound like an ideal expat home, then look to Seychelles. The Seychelles’ tourism board spoke of its widely diverse population and Afro-present communities as the perfect reason to call the island home.
How to register for Audacity Digi Vol. 3
The festival didn’t miss the opportunity to recognize Blackness’s diversity, with additional panels on LGBTQ+ and intergenerational travel and traveling in a politically charged climate. Audacity Digi gave Black travelers the reassurance needed to create a life for ourselves outside of any borders, and the tools to navigate industries or spaces not intending our arrival.
If these topics and speakers sound like something you wish you were able to learn more about, be sure to register for Volume Three of Audacity Digi on October 24, 2020. You will receive access to both live and pre-recorded content, interactive sessions and workshops, virtual networking opportunities, and a digital expo featuring minority-owned businesses.
Editor’s note: Matador Network is a proud sponsor of Audacity Festival.