Adriana Barbosa

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Preta Hub

In the summer of 2020, Global Fellow Adriana Barbosa launched the podcast “Superar” featuring African-Brazilian entrepreneurs navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. The podcast's name translates to “Overcoming” a neat description of Barbosa's journey fighting racial injustice as a black woman before becoming a successful businesswoman and advocate for entrepreneurship and black culture empowerment in Latin America.

It was her upbringing —from being raised in a matriarchal household that let her establish a work ethic at an early age and discover her black ancestry— that shaped her and set her on a path of purpose. When money was scarce, his great-grandmother made food for sale, and she was in charge of distributing flyers and attracting customers. As part of one of the few black families in her middle-class neighborhood, she found refuge and felt solidarity from black culture: the Black Panthers, Malcolm X, Spike Lee movies, and the thriving music scene in the Vila Madalena bohemian neighborhood, where she spent her teens. She heard that artists, she knew the audiences, and she identified that everyone in the supply chain —from customers to sound designers— were black, but only the white men's pockets were filled with profits. She also understood that black entrepreneurship, black cultural identity, and the black economy were all around.

So, in 2002 at hers 22 years old, she brought black entrepreneurship, black pride, and black money together and created the Feira Preta Festival to unlock the potential of Afro-Brazilian entrepreneurs. The Feira Preta Festival was imagined as an event made by and for Afro-Brazilians —who represent more than half of the country's population. The festival was born as a celebration of black culture in Brazil with music performances, plays, concerts, readings, workshops, and a children's space. The first festival edition was a success and it attracted more than 5,000 visitors. However, during its first years, she struggled to keep her vision alive: she faced racism when the festival was expelled from a white neighborhood; she was the victim of theft when money from ticket sales was stolen; and she faced financial struggles, lack of funding, and many debts. All this almost made her give up but she didn't because she saw her community filled with the pride the festival brought to everyone. Today, Feira Preta is the biggest event of black culture and entrepreneurship in Latin America and brings together more than 3,500 black, Quilombola, and indigenous exhibitors from all over Brazil, Colombia, and African countries. Over the last 21 years, the festival has convened an off-line audience of 250,000, and in its online editions has reached about 65 million people with more than 170 contents related to black innovation, technology, gastronomy, fashion, health, education, and games, among others.

Nowadays, the Feira Preta Festival is part of PretaHub Platform, Adriana's latest —and boldest— venture to date. The PretaHub aims to build up a fairer and more diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem and to establish an Afro Diaspora-entrepreneur market on a global scale. It is a hub that homes programs, projects, and actions dedicated to catalyzing black entrepreneurship in Brazil. It includes the Afrolab, an acceleration program that supports business incubation and scaling by creating prototyping, managing, financing, and digital marketing capacities and access to credit; the Casas PretaHub program that helps out entrepreneurs with tools to produce digital content and digitalize their businesses, in São Paulo and Bahia; the Conversando a Gente Se Aprende program, that has contributed to the implementation of the culture of diversity in companies such as Google, Netflix, Bloomberg, and Facebook in Brazil, and the Preta Dados program that every year conducts research and publishes data related to black entrepreneurship, anti-racism, and African Diaspora culture in Brazil.

By December 2022, Adriana is the face of black entrepreneurship in Brazil. Her work has influenced policymaking at local and national levels by getting government and private enterprises to recognize what she did nearly two decades ago. Also, she is taking her visionary approach to black economic empowerment to other countries from the African Diaspora such as South Africa, Colombia, and Bolivia. Barbosa once said: “When you take away our ancestry culture of black people you are perpetuating the annihilation caused by slavery but by allowing us to own and showcase our culture, you are helping us to thrive."

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