The racial wealth gap has become an increasingly hot topic, particularly with the pandemic and nationwide movement for social justice.
And this has led to renewed interest in Black-owned banks. The debate centers on opportunities for these financial institutions to create economic empowerment. That’s everything from loans for black homeownership, capital for black-led businesses, and reinvesting in our communities.
The conversation has also reignited discussion about black banks re-circulating the ‘black dollar’ back into the community. African Americans have an estimated buying power of $1.2 trillion. However, spending often goes into brands that have little interest in hiring Black Americans or investing in our ventures.
Still, Black banks have a long history of serving Americans historically left out of mainstream banking. And these institutions continue that legacy today.
If you’re thinking about supporting a black-owned financial enterprise check out this list of 10 digital and traditional brick-and-mortar banks.
Michael Santiago Render better known by his stage name Killer Mike is a rapper, songwriter, actor, and activist. Killer Mike alongside Ambassador Andrew Young, and Bounce TV founder Ryan Glover, unveiled Atlanta-based digital bank Greenwood at the end of last year.
After raising $40 million in funding Greenwood is well on its way to becoming the largest digital banking platform for Black and Latinx individuals and business owners. The bank will feature online banking services and pay-it-forward programs focused on Black and Latinx causes and businesses. So far, 500,000 people have signed up for the waitlist to bank with Greenwood.
You can find more info on Greenwood here.
Sheena Allen is the founder and CEO of CapWay. She is the youngest woman in America to own and operate a digital bank. Although anyone can use the mobile app, CapWay’s target audience is millennials and Gen-Z, with the aim of changing their financial behavior and transitioning them to using a digital bank. The mobile-first platform provides debit cards to an audience often unfamiliar with them. The service is combined with financial education.
Allen first developed the idea for CapWay after returning to her hometown of Terry, Mississippi. Allen noticed how people without a bank account had difficulty establishing credit scores, buying homes, and saving for the future.
You can find out more info on CapWay here.
After an MBA from the University of Wisconsin, a law degree from Harvard, and extensive experience in investment banking and business Kevin Cohee was elected Chairman and CEO of OneUnited Bank in 1996. Under his leadership, it has become one of the largest Black-owned and FDIC-insured banks in the U.S., with offices in Miami, Boston, and Los Angeles.
In the aftermath of the nationwide protests against police brutality in 2016, Cohee spearheaded the Bank Black movement resulting in Black people transferring tens of millions of dollars into Black-owned banks as a form of social protest. Launched in 1968 as Unity Bank & Trust Company in response to calls for black economic empowerment, OneUnited Bank’s was and remains, “The Bank with a Purpose.”
You can find out more info on OneUnited here:
Corporate highflyer Wole Coaxum launched MoCaFi in 2015 after the police shooting of Michael Brown caused him to reevaluate his career goals. The digital banking platform provides banking, credit building, and wealth coaching services for Americans living on the economic margins.
In addition to low-fee bank accounts, it offers free financial coaching and homeownership counseling, as well as the ability to build credit with rent payments. Since its inception, MoCaFi has enrolled more than 25,000 users, raised more than $6 million in investment funding, and collaborated with Fortune 100 companies
You can find more info on MoCaFi here.
Brian E. Argrett joined City First Bank in 2011 bringing extensive expertise in financing companies in underserved communities. Prior to joining City First, he worked for a small business investment company that focused on providing financing to women and minority entrepreneurs.
In August 2020 City First Bank merged with Black-owned bank, Broadway Federal. The new institution is the largest Black-led bank in the U.S. with more than $1 billion in assets. Argrett was named CEO of the merged firm, while Broadway CEO Wayne-Kent Bradshaw became chair of its nine-member board.
You can find out more on City First Broadway here:
Cynthia Day is president and CEO of Atlanta-based Citizens Trust Bank. Day joined Citizens Trust in 2003 and worked her way up the ranks before securing her current role as president in 2013.
Prior to becoming a banker, Day worked for KPMG as an audit manager for companies in the banking, insurance, manufacturing, and education industries. She is vice-chair of the board of directors of the National Bankers Association, chair of the audit committee of the board of directors for Aarons Inc., and serves on the board of directors for Primerica.
You can find out more info on Citizens Trust Bank here.
Doyle Mitchell, Jr. is President and CEO of Industrial Bank. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in economics from Rutgers University in 1984, he began a full-time career with Industrial Bank which was founded by his grandfather in 1934. He was elected to the Board of Directors in 1990 and succeeded his father as president in 1993.
The company now has over 150 employees and $432 million in assets. It offers banking services such as checking, savings, investments across its ten banking centers spread across the D.C., New Jersey, New York, and Maryland areas. It also offers customers mobile banking services.
You can find out more info on Industrial Bank here:
Laurie Vignaud joined Unity National Bank in January 2020 as President and CEO after previously serving as Senior Vice President of Capital One Bank.
Originally founded in 1963 and acquired by community leaders in February 1989, Unity National Bank is the only African-American-owned banking institution in Texas. Led by Vignaud Unity National Bank has continued to pursue its goal of making a difference in the community. It financially supports organizations such as the YMCA, YWCA, NAACP, United Negro College Fund, SHAPE Community Center, and the Boy Scouts of America.
You can find more info on Unity National Bank here.
Louisiana State University School of Banking graduate Alden J. McDonald Jr began his banking career at International City Bank in New Orleans. In 1972, he became the President and CEO of Liberty Bank and Trust company, a position that he still holds today.
With McDonald at the helm, the bank has kept a commitment to provide banking services to underserved communities to help them reach their financial needs and goals. It now has branch locations in nine states. Earlier this year leading investment bank JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced a $10 million investment in Liberty Bank as part of a broader initiative to support diverse-led financial institutions.
You can find out more on Liberty Bank here:
Sills has served as President and CEO of M&F Bank since 2014. Founded in 1907 as the Mechanic and Farmers Bank, M&F Bank is one of the oldest and most influential Black-owned banks in America.
Last year it was the beneficiary of major corporations who wanted to take action to back calls for black financial empowerment as a way of tackling racial inequality following protests over George Floyd’s death. Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and JPMorgan Chase together invested $18 million into M&F in exchange for shares of the company. That infusion of capital took M&F’s total assets to more than $309 million.
You can find out more M&F Bank here: