Nestled in the Aurora Cultural Arts District near Denver, CO is a spot for the African Diaspora community.
The AfrikMall, a shopping center for African goods, will be celebrating its one year anniversary in July as it continues to provide cultural entertainment and educational programs that reflect the diversity of Africans and people of African descent in the Rocky Mountain Region.
The more than 56,000 square foot building was the location for an evening of celebration of African entrepreneurs in its main atrium on Wednesday, June 28.
Members from the Posner Center for International Development and WorldDenver Young Professionals were present to share experiences of starting businesses in Colorado and hear from contributing members of the mall.
Brandon Malara is a member of the WorldDenver Young Professionals and thoroughly enjoys the networking opportunities the organization provides. He considers Africa to be a hub for global innovation and was excited to feel involved on some level in Denver.
“ [AfrikMall] is a place where the African community can come and feel like they’re in a familiar space, but also a place where people in the rest of the community can come and feel like they’re welcome with a nice view into the African culture,” Malara said.
“There’s a lot of opportunities here and I look forward to seeing what kind of key partners, major events to be thrown and what happens to the surrounding area,” said Ira Moran, an intern from the Black United Fund of Colorado.
Moran envisions himself becoming a consumer, patron, and possibly a vendor with AfrikMall. He had the opportunity to meet with AfrikMall CEO Cobina Lartson and discussing fundraising, construction, and general networking ideas.
The community effort that initiated the process of AfrikMall has been well received by the surrounding area. Feedback from the Aurora community has been positive and some folks have even gone so far as to label the Arts District ‘The New Five Points,’ a predominately African-American neighborhood in Denver.
“This is a space where people can come and learn about Africa from Africans,” said Lartson. His long term goals are to own the building and expand globally within 10 years.
WorldDenver Young Professionals and Posner Center for International Development both have a passion for global affairs and building a community of innovators who grow lasting solutions to global poverty.