Financial Panel1

With the holiday season approaching, shoppers are expected to spend more money than ever this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

The National Retail Federation recently announced that consumer sales in November and December are expected to increase by 4.1 percent from last year to more than $600 billion this year.

Despite the rising trend, a group of business leaders and church leaders recently met at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. to educate the community on the importance of being and staying in good financial shape.

“You have to think as money as a tool. One of the things about businesses is too often we create a business that does not stand for the values that they have,” said Andy Shallal, Social Justice Advocate and owner of the Busboys and Poets restaurants. “If one wants to start a business then one should think about the values that you are bringing. What is the culture? What is the essence of the business?”

Shallal was part of a four-member panel discussion at the two-day Moneywise Fourth Annual Financial Empowerment Tour beginning Oct. 31. The other panel participants included Rebecca Ennen, development and communications director of Jews Untied for Justice; the Reverend Jonathan Weaver, senior pastor of Greater Mt. Nebo AME Church of Bowie, Md.; and the Reverend Willie Wilson, senior pastor with Union Temple Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.

Nearly 100 people gathered to hear the panel speak about the importance of being financially literate, and how to make good business decisions.

“A business that really understands the essence, and not just to sell because if you start just as selling there’s a billion other people who just wants to sell,” said Shallal.

The Rev. Dr. Jonathan Weaver of the Greater Mt. Neo Church said Pastors should be held accountable for understanding the nature of the churches finances.  “Pastors should get continuing education on the budget and finances. If we tell our members to educate themselves we as pastors need to be doing the same thing as well” said the Rev. Weaver.

The Moneywise tour is free to the public and has traveled throughout the United States, Europe, Japan and the Middle-East serving more than 40,000 Americans since 2006.

In D.C., the Moneywise Financial Empowerment Summit has been hosted by the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church and the Daniel Alexander Payne Community Development Corporation since 2011, according to the organization’s recent publication.

For more information about the event go to

“I don’t have an MBA or law degree but I learned how to read a financial statement and how to read a lease” said Shallal.

The Money Wise event also stressed the importance on teaching young people and adults on how to become business leaders, and to pull back the curtain and expose the reality of how to become successful in business.