Juanita “Busy Bee” Britton. Courtesy of BZB International

By Jackie L. Williams, Ph.D.

In the words of Juanita “Busy Bee” Britton, “the spirit led me to Southwest’s District Wharf to make an economic impact and make a difference in the lives of local residents.”  Her business acumen engages people to shop and connect in fellowship in a way that brings the community together. When you step into one of her shops, you step out of the world as it exists into an environment that embraces priceless beauty you can own. 

Through BZB International, Inc., she strives for artistic excellence in offering the best of Africa and African American visual artwork, handmade crafts, and jewelry. She also provides a forum for artists to discuss their crafts at her shops and marketplace events. This affords an opportunity to build a village to forge an authentic relationship between artists and communities.

As a minority business owner, she commits a year to expand her local Anacostia business, as an economic development strategy, to support the opening of the second phase of the District Wharf. This year-long pop-up leaves a long-lasting impact on the Southwest community for years to come. The presence of BZB International bridges the gap of people and communities between east of the river and the southwest waterfront with Navy Yard and Buzzard Point in between.

Britton oversees a conglomerate of local, national, and global enterprises. Her business development skills were evident from the age of 10, when she launched a summer lemonade stand business as her first venture in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan. With a passion for serving people, she left her beloved community for Washington, DC to pursue a master’s degree in public affairs at Howard University. With this purpose, BZB International was born in 1985 with a mission that comprises special event coordination, retail development, public relations, marketing, and an African diaspora travel firm. One of her signature events is “BZB Holiday Gift & Art Show, the largest African American Department Store on the East Coast.”

Considering the “spirit” that led her to Southwest, imagine Southwest past – a thriving African American enclave which predates urban renewal. Descendent communities live along Fourth and Seventh Streets near the quadrant’s major shopping center.  During the mid-1950s and early 1960s, redevelopment displaced 23,500 southwesters, including African American and Jewish residents, to other city neighborhoods.  In recent years, Southwest has welcomed an influx of residents as a result of the redevelopment along the waterfronts of the District Wharf, Buzzard Point, and Navy Yard.

Through her entrepreneurial spirit, Britton builds upon the legacy of the Southwest community and economic development efforts, by fostering an environment that heals and brings people together for the greater good. No stranger to building bridges, she has expanded her beloved community to Africa. For the past 13 years, she has reigned as Royal Queen Mother Nana Botwe Adobea II of Timber Nwanta Village, in the Eastern Region of Ghana, West Africa. She travels to the village four times a year and is responsible for implementing economic development projects with more than 600 residents. As a community builder, she helps to “improve literacy standards through teacher support and training; provide higher education scholarships; secure greater access to literacy tools and technology; facilitate leadership skills and an empowerment program for girls; and promote health and wellness initiatives.”

For more information about BZB International, Inc., visit https://bzbinternational.com/.

Jackie L. Williams, Ph.D. writes about people, places, and historical celebrations at the intersection of faith and public policy.  She earned degrees in computer science, education, public policy, and religious studies/ethnics and social justice from Jackson State University and Howard University. As a Southwest Washington, DC resident of more than 20 years, she is an ordained Christian minister, licensed tour guide, a Docent at the Washington National Cathedral and a past Chair of Friends of Rankin Chapel at Howard University.

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