Monthly Archives: February 2018

FAMU Alumna & Atlanta Cigar Week Co-Founder Octavia Toliver is Adding New Flavor to the Old Boys’ Club of Cigars


On any given day, you can find Herficionado, Octavia Toliver’s moniker, just about anywhere from the cigar shop to a rooftop terrace puffing on a cigar and planning her next move as she takes the cigar industry by storm. A storm that she hopes will continue to change the demographics of those who embrace a good stogie on a beautiful afternoon and present opportunities as far as the eye can see, smoke clouds aside. The cigar world has traditionally been the stomping grounds of old white business men, but Ms. Toliver’s “feminine perspective” as she puts it is bringing elegance, style, and a breath of knowledge that runs cigar circles around many of her male counterparts who dare try to see her as  just a beautiful face. Nor is she alone as the #SOTL or Sisters Of The Leaf are a rapidly growing and yet underappreciated segment in the cigar world. According to the CDCP, women cigar smokers have grown from 1/10th of 1 percent in the 1980s to 2 percent of U.S. women’s population. It may not sound like a lot, but 2 percent is equivalent to 3.2 million women. As such, Ms. Toliver has become an influencer and innovator within the industry and HBCU Money was able to catch up with her for interview.

What is your HBCU background? I achieved a B.A. in English from Rattler Nation better known as Florida A&M University. Never ask a (southern) lady her age OR graduation year.

We are sure you get asked this a lot, but what got you interested in cigars? I was introduced to cigars by a guy who took me on a date to a cigar bar 10 years ago. I don’t remember his name, but I remember the cigars! Lol.

In light of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements where women are empowering themselves to push back against sexual harassment in their respective spaces. How do you believe women are treated within the cigar industry? What improvements would you like to see in respect to women within the industry? The cigar industry is obviously male-dominated, so there are still some instances in which women are treated as just pretty faces. A woman can know more about cigars than any man, but if she’s very attractive, she will never be considered an authority, by some guys. This hasn’t been my experience, completely, because I’ve gotten tremendous support from men in the industry, but I’ve definitely felt the resistance from some. I’m not really sure if there is an improvement that can/will be made. I just advise all of the SOTL’s (Sisters Of The Leaf) to keep carrying themselves with class so that eventually the guys will come around. Or they won’t and we’ll start more of our own cigar companies! *wink*

For HBCU students who may have an interest in the industry, what advice would you give them on getting started? Frequent your local cigar lounge or shop! Hang out, ask questions, try various profiles! Join a Facebook cigar group! There are tens if not hundreds of thousands of people online who are just waiting to teach others about cigars! Just like with any other industry, educate yourself and go for it.

Tell our audience about what led to the creation and mission behind you co-founding the Atlanta Cigar Week? Atlanta Cigar Week was created from a desire to showcase Atlanta as the top cigar market in the country. We have almost 100 cigar shops and lounges so we wanted to show the country what we have to offer. ACW2017, we executed 13 events in 7 days! We had a great turnout, but we’re expecting even more attendees and sponsors for 2018. We are also expanding to Dubai in May, and hopefully at least one other city before the end of the year!

Do you think your HBCU experiences prepared you in any special way for the work and life you live today? I’m not sure if it prepared me for my work, but my experience at an HBCU was a great bridge from childhood to my adult life. FAMU was my first experience where minorities were the majority. I’m from a city that is sometimes called the Redneck Riviera, but it was just HOME to me. In retrospect, I now see that my perspective of black people was quite limited. Attending an HBCU opened my eyes a great deal because there students from many backgrounds who just all happened to be black. When we speak of diversity, we’re usually referring to people of different ethnicities or races, but I had never seen such diversity in people of the same race. I now live in Atlanta which is the same on a much larger scale.

What is one of your fondness HBCU memory? One of my fondest memories was Set Fridays at FAMU. As a freshman, I lived in a dorm only a few yards away from the set, which was a courtyard on campus. On Fridays, vendors would come set up tables and food stands! There would be music playing, and all of the students would hang out in between classes. I LOVED it because everyone would put on their flyest outfits, and the Greeks would always come stroll through. The camaraderie out there was absolutely beautiful.

You can follow Octavia Toliver on Instagram at @herficionado for all of her latest projects and events.

 

 

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HBCU Money’s 2017 Top 10 HBCU Endowments


HBCU endowments after a sluggish few years have bounced back with a spring in their step. Half of this year’s list has double digit gains in their endowment’s market value, which is the best showing since 2014. There are certainly some strong arguments of what has led to this turnaround in the past 365 days. One thing for sure is the strong stock market helped all universities and colleges in increased values. There has also been a renewed interest HBCU engagement among the African American community in general with increased admissions and donations across many HBCU institutions. This always bodes well for future endowments given that much of alumni giving is a numbers game. With the economy by many estimates on growing yet shaky ground, future market value growth for HBCU endowments may rest even more so in the pockets of alumni to steady the ship when rough waters approach so that will be something to keep an eye on.

We can only hope that Howard University (despite this year’s absence) is creeping towards the billion dollar endowment mark because the gap between the Top 10 HWCU/PWI endowments and the Top 10 HBCU/PBI endowments seems to only balloon year after year, with the gap increasing from an approximately $140 billion in 2010 to the current almost $200 billion. A gap that for perspective is twice as much as the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, entire net worth. As it stands now, there are 100 HWCU/PWIs with a billion dollar endowment or greater and 10 with a market value of $10 billion and greater.

Although they are far from the Top 10, Texas College continues to impress with their endowment’s market value growth, placing 9th out of the 818 colleges and universities that reported to this year’s NACUBO survey with 33.8 percent growth. Whatever is going on in Tyler, Texas, we encourage others to take note.

1. Howard University – Unreported**

2. Spelman College – $366 056 (5.5%)

3.  Hampton University – $279 093 (10.0%)

4.  Meharry Medical College – $153 653 (7.7%)

5. Florida A&M University – $113 000 (-0.1%)

6.  Tennessee State University – $55 840 (11.1%)

7.  University of the Virgin Islands – $55 549 (1.1%)

8.  North Carolina A&T State University  – $55 231 (14.9%)

9.  Texas Southern University – $54 171 (12.5%)

10. Virginia State University – $51 122 (11.6%)

Take a look at how an endowment works. Not only scholarships to reduce the student debt burden but research, recruiting talented faculty & students, faculty salaries, and a host of other things can be paid for through a strong endowment. It ultimately is the lifeblood of a college or university to ensure its success generation after generation.

 

*Note: The change in market value does NOT represent the rate of return for the institution’s investments. Rather, the change in the market value of an endowment from FY2016 to FY2017 reflects the net impact of: 1) withdrawals to fund institutional operations and capital expenses; 2) the payment of endowment management and investment fees; 3) additions from donor gifts and other contributions; and 4) investment gains or losses.

**Howard University did not report their endowment, but has been ranked number one since our list began. As such, we acknowledge the high probability that they remain as such.

Additional Notes:
NACUBO Average Endowment – $704 527 (8.9%)
NACUBO Median Endowment – $130 963 (6.0%)
Top 10 HWCU Endowments combined – $198.4 billion                                        Top 10 HBCU Endowments combined – $1.9 billion

Source: National Association of College & University Business Officers

HBCU Money™ Turns 6 Years Old


By William A. Foster, IV

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford

The path to success has never been a straight line. That is true in anything we hope to accomplish in life. For HBCU Money, growing out of our infancy into a mature company has been a painstaking process to say the least. As we turn 6 years old, there are a lot of questions that are at the forefront of this journey that we are in the process of answering.

It is my belief that for the first time since we started, we maybe gifted the resources needed to truly grow and mature as a media asset to the HBCU community and to the financial journalism community. I purposely quieted our ranks last year as we published very little. This year may prove to be more of the same as ensure a clarity of the path in which we will move forward, but we will be heard from. It iss a chance to settle the spirit of our offices and take a step back and truly understand what needs to be done going forward to get us to where we truly want to be with this medium.

I am steadfast in the future of HBCU Money being an important voice in how our institutions and their stories are told. Thank you to all who continue to support that mission.