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The Nation’s Top Black-Owned Financial Services 2019 Revealed

by  Selena Hill
June 26, 2019

The BE financial services companies include the largest black banks, investment banks, asset managers, and private equity firms. These companies manage trillions of assets as they diversify the capital markets and serve the needs of individual and institutional clients from Wall Street to Silicon Valley.

1OneUnited Bank656.198
2Liberty Bank and Trust Co.591.541
3Carver Bancorp Inc. (Carver Federal Savings Bank) *590.000
4Industrial Bank433.851
5Citizens Bancshares Corp. (Citizens Trust Bank) *411.073
6Broadway Financial Corp. (Broadway Federal Bank) *407.170
7Harbor Bankshares Corp. (The Harbor Bank of Maryland)282.599
8First Independence Bank257.244
9M&F Bancorp Inc. (Mechanics & Farmers Bank)257.200
10City National Bank of New Jersey167.570
11GN Bank**139.902
12Citizens Savings Bank & Trust Co.103.080
13Unity National Bank93.832
14Tri-State Bank of Memphis82.336
15Commonwealth National Bank47.261



About the BE 100s Listing of the Largest Black-Owned Businesses

by  Selena Hill
June 26, 2019

From technology and manufacturing to food services and media, these companies represent the revenue and employment leaders of black business as well as its greatest innovators. Top 100 companies have also demonstrated economic impact by producing more than $25 billion in revenues and employed more than 70,000 workers.


1World Wide Technology Inc.11,287.419
2Act 1 Group2,800.000
3Bridgewater Interiors L.L.C.1,969.340
4Coca-Cola Beverages Florida L.L.C.1,310.000
5Modular Assembly Innovations L.L.C.1,042.690
6Bridgeman Foods *870.000
7Thompson Hospitality Corp.760.000
8The Anderson-DuBose Co.702.856
9Urban One Inc.**440.041
10Hightowers Petroleum Co.434.265
11Fair Oaks Farms L.L.C.342.000
12Millennium Steel Service L.L.C.311.842
13Global Automotive Alliance Corp.274.800
14Millennium Steel of Texas266.023
15Adams Communication & Engineering Technology Inc.253.000
16Baldwin Richardson Foods Co.252.000
17Bird Electric237.890
18Georgetown Metal Processing L.L.C.235.000
19Devon Industrial Group L.L.C.234.000
20Salamander Hotels & Resorts212.727
21Harris & Ford L.L.C.206.000
22Health Resources Inc.204.283
23Trillion Communications Corp.191.000
24Diversant L.L.C.190.000
25H. J. Russell & Co.178.151
26Blue Spring Metals L.L.C.173.000
27Jackmont Hospitality Inc.165.900
28Sun State International Trucks L.L.C.148.500
29Chemico L.L.C.146.000
30James Group International Inc.138.000
31Systems Electro Coating L.L.C.131.175
32Powers & Sons Construction Co. Inc.118.070
33Advantage Living Centers***114.000
34PRWT Services Inc.108.747
35K. Neal Truck & Bus Center****103.500
36The Lewis Group L.L.P.101.858
37Epitec Inc.98.100
38Systems Automotive Interiors L.L.C.97.025
39Summus Industries Inc.96.910
40New Horizon Baking Co.†96.540
41MINACT Inc.94.569
42Mays Chemical Co. Inc.92.700
43Diversity Vuteq92.000
44V & J Holding Cos. Inc.89.000
45Engineering Design Technologies Inc.86.759
46Raven Transport Co. Inc.83.677
47All American Meats Inc.81.220
48Beauchamp Distributing Co.80.809
49Systems Application and Technologies Inc. (SA-TECH)79.000
50Neta Scientific Inc.76.625
51IMB Development Corp.76.000
52Harpo Inc.72.000
53Tolston Holding L.L.C69.450
54Arcade Travel Inc. ††69.287
55Parrish Restaurants Ltd.67.226
56The Client Base Funding Group Inc.†††67.000
58UJAMAA Construction Inc.65.000
59Benton-Georgia L.L.C.63.000
60Rocket Lawyer60.000
61C. D. Moody Construction Co. Inc.58.000
62MCLJASCO Inc. 52.336
63Frontier Development & Hospitality Group LLC51.000
64McKissack & McKissack50.000
64The Will Group50.000
66IAP Government Services Group/IAP Design Build L.L.C.††††46.000
67Oakland Consulting Group Inc.42.693
68TME Enterprises 1 Ltd.‡40.779
69w3r Consulting40.000
70Advanced Systems Development Inc.37.538
71General Microsystems Inc.36.800
72B & S Electric Supply Co. Inc.35.483
73Keystone Electrical Manufacturing Co.35.200
74Howard Stirk Holdings35.000
75Rickman Enterprise Group L.L.C.34.000
76Golden Krust Franchising Inc.‡‡ 32.702
77Brodie Contractors Inc.31.000
78TAG Holdings L.L.C.30.874
79JMA Solutions L.L.C.30.000
80TW Constructors L.L.C.28.900
81New England Greens L.L.C.‡‡‡24.300
82ChaseSource L.P.23.000
83Signature Packaging and Paper L.L.C.21.658
84Logistics Systems Inc.21.384
85DigiFlight Inc.20.970
TD4 Electrical L.L.C.
87Premier Management Corp.20.000
88Networking Technologies + Support17.279
89Bithgroup Technologies15.000
89Black Enterprise15.000
89Banneker Ventures L.L.C.15.000
92BCT Partners L.L.C.13.650
93Aire Sheet Metal Inc.12.100
94Mosaic Global Transportation Inc.11.474
95Skyline Industries LLC8.000
96Nursez R us 7.000
97The Roberts Cos.6.800
98Sudu Logistics Inc.5.800
99Cerulean Global Services L.L.C.5.000
100Castle Black Construction4.700


Minnesota certifies first black-led cooperative credit union

North Minneapolis is one step closer to having its first black-led credit union after Village Financial Cooperative received a contingent charter approval from the state Department of Commerce on Wednesday.

Village Financial, whose creation was spurred on by the police killing of Philando Castile in 2016, seeks to financially support black residents in north Minneapolis by providing an alternative to payday loan companies and check-cashing services.

The contingent approval by the state means the cooperative’s application moves to the National Credit Union Administration, which will decide whether to grant it insurance on its deposits, said Me’Lea Connelly, who leads vision and strategy for Village Financial.

Connelly called it a “milestone” that has put the group on track to open by June 19, or Juneteenth, a date recognizing the emancipation of black slaves.

“It just confirms the vision that the community had, that they had their finger on the pulse of what really needs to happen to move the dial on economic racial inequities in our state,” she said.

More than 1,600 people — mostly black residents and mostly from north Minneapolis — have pledged to join the cooperative, totaling $4.2 million in deposits, Connelly said. The co-op received initial financial support from the Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota, and the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey allocated $500,000 for the credit union in next year’s budget.

Council Member Jeremiah Ellison, who represents a ward in north Minneapolis, thanked Connelly for her leadership and said he was proud the city was supporting the co-op financially.

Ellison said people who struggle economically are exploited by businesses that charge steep interest rates on loans. Village Financial, on the other hand, could set people on the path to obtain a low-interest loan even if they’re not initially approved.

“Getting people in the know on how to steer their financial future is really important,” he said. “To have that centered in north Minneapolis, a place that has faced some pretty steep disinvestment over decades, I think is really important.”

Connelly said the credit union has a goal of 5,000 pledged members by the time it opens next year. Though Village Financial is now based east of downtown Minneapolis, she said it is looking for a bigger space on the North Side.

Castile was killed in 2016 by a St. Anthony police officer during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights. One week after his death, Connelly and others brainstormed ways to improve the economic conditions of black residents. They agreed on the need to form a black-led financial institution on the North Side of Minneapolis.

In a message shared on social media, Village Financial said it would be “laying the foundation for a Black economic renaissance and a permanent reversal of the economic disparities we have suffered for too long.”


We Buy Black: Top Black Businesses You Should Support

 by Teddy Grant and Christina Santi, April 27, 2018

EBONY wants you to buy Black. A study by Nielsen—a global information and measurement company that gathers data on what people watch, buy and listen to—found that the Black community has a current buying power of $1.2 trillion.

Much of that money, however,  is spent outside of our communities. It is important to connect consumers with Black-owned businesses so our money stays in Black communities and promotes our economic stability.


Below are the top Black businesses we think are worth your money:

De’Shade Eyewear

De’Shade is a small designer eyewear company based in Los Angeles. The glasses are stylish and cost as little as $20 but still have a luxury feel. The company also prides itself on providing looks that are inclusive of all shapes, sizes and color of people.

Wild Moon Jewelry

Wild Moon was created by Toronto-based jewelry designer Asia Clarke. The line’s pieces are eco-conscious and use natural materials to create the art of the jewelry. The beadwork and material choices allow each piece to become a highlight to any outfit.


MWR Collection

The MWR collection is a unisex accessories brand by Mia Wright-Ross featuring chairs, stools, bags and luggage that boast raw-edged seams and hand-stitched detailing. The handcrafted goods can be pricey, but they are design standouts.

Temple Zen Organic Skincare

Temple Zen offers all-natural hand-crafted skin care products for your face and body. The company uses organic herbs, oils, salts and vitamin-rich minerals to restore and promote natural cell rejuvenation. Although skin care can be expensive, all of TZ’s products are reasonably priced.

Kärlek Candle Co.

This company specializes in hand-poured organic candles made with coconut wax that are so fragrant, they fill a room with their scent before they are burned. The eco-friendly candles are restocked weekly (they sell out within minutes) and become available for purchase on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST.


Unwrp adds luxury to gift wrapping. The brand not only offers striking, unique print options and the ability to customize wrapping paper to make your gifts stand out, but it has also introduced reusable options that can be repurposed as fashion statements.

Puer NY

This NYC-based clothing line recreates some of pop culture and fashion’s biggest moments on its graphic tees. In addition to T-shirts, the company creates eco-friendly denim and outerwear.

Your go-to stop for pins, patches and keychains that honor Black culture, Coloring Pins takes Black moments such as the history of Black hair care or the “You have McDonald’s money?” question by Black moms and turns them into wearable statement pieces.

Ikuzi Dolls

Ikuzi Dolls creates Black dolls that come in different shades with different hair textures and hairstyles, showcasing how diverse the our community is. It provides children with the representation that can be missing from mainstream toys.


This online bookstore, a family business, pairs Black readers with books written for, by and about us in almost every genre

Me & the Bees Lemonade

Entrepreneur Mikaila Ulmer, 13, developed a fascination with bees after she was stung twice by them in one week when she was 4. After receiving her great-grandmother’s recipe for lemonade, she started her own business selling the drink, with a portion of her profits going to organizations that help save honeybees. Her lemonade can be found on store shelves at Whole Foods in several states.

Pyramid Books

Pyramid Books is bookstore based in Boynton Beach, Florida, that offers works from African-American authors of genres including fiction, nonfiction, self-help, metaphysics, mysteries, Egyptology and science fiction and specializes in books that are more difficult to find. Anyone wanting to learn more about the African diaspora can find books here that will serve their needs.

Fanm Djanm

Fanm Djanm began in 2014 as a headwrap company but has transformed into a lifestyle brand. Its name means “strong woman” in Haitian Kreyol, and its mission is to motivate women to be bold and to wear bold prints. Its headwraps are handmade in Harlem, some of fabrics and dyes from African countries, thereby helping local businesses on the continent.

RWD Consulting

RWD Consulting is a management consulting firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. that caters to clients in the public and private sectors. With over 190 workers, the company offers various services in information technology, facilities and logistics, program and administrative support and health care. The firm brought in $7.9 million in revenue in 2016, according to

Nubian Skin

The London-based company, which has been featured in EBONY, was born out of a lack of lingerie and hosiery options that matched the skin tones of women of color. Ade Hassan founded Nubian Skin in 2014 and has expanded the brand to include shoes. The company delivers worldwide.

The Lip Bar

This cosmetics business stemmed from frustration about lack of diversity in the beauty industry with regard to color range, unnecessary chemicals and linear depictions in the media. The Lip Bar offers a wide variety of shades of lipsticks, lip glosses and liquid mattes, and all products are vegan and cruelty-free.

Kashmir VIII

Founder Kashmir Thomas combined her talents as an artist and her knowledge of pop culture references and turned it into a business. Her website sells clutches, shirts, mugs and prints that feature her awesome artwork. Her most recent pop culture references are from Beyoncé’s Coachella performance and Marvel’s megasuccessful Black Panther film.


Costbucket is a point-of-service provider that caters to small business owners. The company offers cloud-based accounting software, real-time updates on inventory management, customer accounts in addition to personal accounting managers who work closely with businesses.

Talley & Twine

Talley & Twine is a watch company that makes affordable and stylish quality watches. Founded by Randy D. Williams, it was created to represent the “intersection of where you started and where you finish.”

My Pride Apparel

Specializing in clothes for the “socially conscious Black woman,” this company exemplifies #BlackGirlMagic and offers a wide variety of tees, sweatshirts, hats and mugs that make bold statements.


There are a host of other Black businesses that deserve your support, and the ones on this list are good starting points for those who want to invest their money in our community.  We hope you enjoy our pick of businesses, and please comment/tag a business you would like us to feature.


The Basics of Starting a Home-Based Business

By Steve Julal 

More than half of all businesses today are home-based. Every day, people are striking out and achieving economic and creative independence by turning their skills into dollars. Garages, basements, and attics are being transformed into the corporate headquarters of the newest entrepreneurs–home-based business people.

And, with technological advances in smartphones, tablets, and iPads as well as rising demand for “service-oriented” businesses, the opportunities seem to be endless.

Is a Home-Based Business Right for You?

Choosing a home business is like choosing a spouse or partner: Think carefully before starting the business. Instead of plunging right in, take the time to learn as much about the market for any product or service as you can. Before you invest any time, effort, or money take a few moments to answer the following questions:

  • Can you describe in detail the business you plan on establishing?
  • What will be your product or service?
  • Is there a demand for your product or service?
  • Can you identify the target market for your product or service?
  • Do you have the talent and expertise needed to compete successfully?

Before you dive headfirst into a home-based business, it’s essential that you know why you are doing it and how you will do it. To achieve success your business must be based on something greater than a desire to be your own boss and involves an honest assessment of your own personality, an understanding of what’s involved, and a lot of hard work. You have to be willing to plan ahead and make improvements and adjustments along the way.

While there are no “best” or “right” reasons for starting a home-based business, it is vital to have a very clear idea of what you are getting into and why. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you a self-starter?
  • Can you stick to business if you’re working at home?
  • Do you have the necessary self-discipline to maintain schedules?
  • Can you deal with the isolation of working from home?

Working under the same roof that your family lives under may not prove to be as easy as it seems. It is important that you work in a professional environment. If at all possible, you should set up a separate office in your home. You must consider whether your home has space for a business and whether you can successfully run the business from your home. If so, you may qualify for a tax break called the home office deduction. For more information see the article, Do You Qualify for the Home Office Deduction? below.

Compliance with Laws and Regulations

A home-based business is subject to many of the same laws and regulations affecting other businesses, and you will be responsible for complying with them. There are some general areas to watch out for, but be sure to consult an attorney and your state department of labor to find out which laws and regulations will affect your business.


Be aware of your city’s zoning regulations. If your business operates in violation of them, you could be fined or closed down.

Restrictions on Certain Goods

Certain products may not be produced in the home. Most states outlaw home production of fireworks, drugs, poisons, sanitary or medical products, and toys. Some states also prohibit home-based businesses from making food, drink, or clothing.

Registration and Accounting Requirements

You may need the following:

  • Work certificate or a license from the state (your business’s name may also need to be registered with the state)
  • Sales tax number
  • Separate business telephone
  • Separate business bank account

If your business has employees, you are responsible for withholding income, social security, and Medicare taxes, as well as complying with minimum wage and employee health and safety laws.

Planning Techniques

Money fuels all businesses. With a little planning, you’ll find that you can avoid most financial difficulties. When drawing up a financial plan, don’t worry about using estimates. The process of thinking through these questions helps develop your business skills and leads to solid financial planning.

Estimating Start-Up Costs

To estimate your start-up costs include all initial expenses such as fees, licenses, permits, telephone deposit, tools, office equipment and promotional expenses.

In addition, business experts say you should not expect a profit for the first eight to ten months, so be sure to give yourself enough of a cushion if you need it.

Projecting Operating Expenses

Include salaries, utilities, office supplies, loan payments, taxes, legal services and insurance premiums, and don’t forget to include your normal living expenses. Your business must not only meet its own needs but make sure it meets yours as well.

Projecting Income

It is essential that you know how to estimate your sales on a daily and monthly basis. From the sales estimates, you can develop projected income statements, break-even points, and cash-flow statements. Use your marketing research to estimate initial sales volume.

Determining Cash Flow

Working capital–not profits–pays your bills. Even though your assets may look great on the balance sheet, if your cash is tied up in receivables or equipment, your business is technically insolvent. In other words, you’re broke.

Make a list of all anticipated expenses and projected income for each week and month. If you see a cash-flow crisis developing, cut back on everything but the necessities.

If a home-based business is in your future, then a tax professional can help. Don’t hesitate to call if you need assistance setting up your business or making sure you have the proper documentation in place to satisfy the IRS.


How African American Business Owners Can Protect Their Assets

The United States is a litigious nation; well over 15 million to 20 million civil cases are filed in the U.S. every year. There are nearly 3 million African American-owned businesses. Small businesses and their owners are prime targets for frivolous lawsuits. As a result, learning about your options for protecting your assets is crucial.


Prominent asset protection attorney Jay Adkisson is the author of Asset Protection: Concepts and Strategies for Protecting Your Wealth. Here are some strategies outlined by Adkisson and other experts for asset protection:


Equity Stripping


Equity stripping is the usage of liens to decrease the asset’s equity value. The mentality behind this strategy is that it will be difficult for a creditor in a civil judgment to make a claim against an asset that on “paper” has little equity value due to the lien(s) that are already pledging it.


The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) & Federal Bankruptcy Laws


State exemption laws exempt certain asset classes from civil judgment execution and bankruptcy settlements. While the asset classes and their coverages vary by state, typical asset classes include real estate, retirement plans, life insurance proceeds, pensions, annuities, public benefits, tools of trade, wages, personal/miscellaneous property, and more.


Insurance Coverages


Basic personal and commercial insurance policies are essential for asset protection methods; these include having adequate coverages over your vehicles, home, along with personal liability coverage in terms of personal insurance policies. For commercial policies, the general liability, professional liability, workman’s compensation, product liability, and cyber law liability are coverages that would be applicable. Personal and commercial umbrella policies can also be acquired for coverages beyond the general policy amounts.


Business Entities


Choosing to not operate your business as a Sole Proprietorship and to incorporate the business, can separate your personal affairs from business affairs, creating a limited or separation of liability scenario. Said business entities include S-Corporations, C-Corporations, and Limited Liability Companies.




The use of domestic trusts has been utilized by asset protection attorneys and consultants where the creator of the trust would also serve as the beneficiary.


Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (UFTA)


As a general rule, all asset protection strategies should be in place prior to the start of a civil lawsuit, to avoid potential violations of The Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (UFTA). UFTA monitors actions by debtors to make sure that there are no actual intentions to hinder, delay, or defraud a creditor.


Unscrupulous Asset Protection Consultants


There are a number of unscrupulous asset protection consultants who promote strategies that end up causing problems with tax authorities, court officials, and other regulators. Adkisson warns that research of any strategy should be conducted and asset protection planners, consultants, and representatives should be properly experienced in the area in which they are practicing.


Betting On Sub-Saharan African Growth Favorites In A Strong 2018

By Kurt Davis Jr. AFKI Original
sub-Saharan African growth - Africa attractive to clothing brandsEthiopia is one of the Africa countries expecting strong growth. Photo: Petterik Wiggers/Wall Street Journal.The news last month from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) regarding sub-Saharan African growth has investors breathing a sigh of relief.

The IMF expects sub-Saharan Africa to grow by 3.4 percent in 2018, up from the 2.6 percent in 2017. Although such figures create optimism, they do not match the higher growth numbers in previous years.

Between 2004 and 2011, for example, sub-Saharan Africa grew 6.2 percent, with a peak growth of 7.6 percent in 2007 and a low of 4.1 percent in 2009 due to the 2008 global financial crisis.

The average growth between 2012 and 2015 was 4.5 percent, and growth has trended downward since then.

The rebound in 2018, according to the IMF, is not an indication of strong momentum in growth going into 2019.

One-third of the countries will grow 5 percent or more in 2018—largely in the eastern and western regions of Africa—however, combined with a decline of per capita incomes in 12 countries which house 40 percent of the region’s population (~400 million people), according to the IMF’s report.

This piece looks at the countries offering the best opportunities in 2018, with a strong consideration for the challenges in 2019. That qualification for 2019 underlines the economic and political uncertainty that will be created by a few elections in the coming 18-24 months.

Expected growth of 1.9 percent and 1.1 percent in Nigeria and South Africa respectively will bump up against elections in both countries in 2019, which has some investors skittish about the coming year.


The election of Nana Akufo-Addo in 2016 excited many investors. Getting an administration in place and making some economic changes, however, took some time, thus 2017 receives mixed reviews. But all indicators point to a strong 2018 with growth expected at 8.9 percent.

Oil production is expected to pick up in the country to match the current $60-plus thinking on Brent prices in 2018.

Kosmos plans to resume drilling on Ghana’s TEN project in early 2018. Energy growth, including gas-to-power, will be the focus in 2018 which will further help Ghana strengthen local aspirations with consumer products and light industrialization.

Any forward movement on the “Made in Ghana” policy launched in 2016 would be helpful for a country that would love to manage its imports and build up local content.

Agri-business is also an exciting focus for this country, with many investors viewing Ghana as a key player in agriculture for the continent going forward. Education also always remains an interest in what is considered West Africa’s education hub.


Ethiopia is expected to grow 8.5 percent in 2018. To many investors, such high growth in Ethiopia is not anything necessarily new in recent times and has not always bred investment opportunity.

The positive from Ethiopia in 2018 may simply boil down to a three things: (1) the amount of consumers continues to grow (thus why Ethiopia has the largest mobile operator); (2) consumers are spending more; and (3) investments have been tried and proven (compared to pre-2012).

Investors will find a ready partner for manufacturing and light industry as the model has been tested and proven beneficial for both investors and the country.

Agri-business will also be a focus for investors as local content for packaged goods and food is big for the government’s tight management of imports in relation to the Ethiopian currency.

Non-food related goods, including pharmaceutical products and household products (i.e., toothpaste, detergent), still require more investment for similar currency reasons and to address local consumer demand.

Cote d’Ivoire

The Francophone Africa show will continue into 2018 led by Cote d’Ivoire. The country is expected to maintain its 7 percent-plus growth in 2018 and 2019.

Power generation is improving, with increasing interest from private investors and development institutions, and accompanies West Africa’s second largest port, a modern airport, and a relatively strong road network.

The growth, however, may be outpacing other vital sectors, including the real estate and financial sectors. Housing and office space is in demand for a growing middle class and to support growing international businesses in the country.

The financial sector still requires some restructuring and offers opportunity for private investors with an appetite for smaller sized investments that are capable of producing strong returns.


Senegal is the other pivotal country in the Francophone story.  The opportunity in the country is widespread and underpinned by 7 percent grow in 2018. Energy and transport infrastructure are still a vital focus for the country.

The story here is not new as Senegal knows its economic hub reputation for West Africa depends on its ability to support business in the region with basic infrastructural requirements.

Other exciting opportunities largely flow from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which are more the story in Senegal versus some other West African giants.

The government is doing a lot to support entrepreneurship in industrialization, manufacturing and agriculture in the country to boost SMEs. The ongoing complaint, ironically (for this article), remains the same with a lack of operational and financial partners.

Those concerned about a Senegalese election in 2019 can probably find solace in the strong performance of President Macky Sall’s ruling coalition in the 2017 legislative election.

The next three – Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mozambique

Picking one of the above three to finish out a top five is hard. Burkina Faso is on the right track with 6.5 percent growth expected in 2018 to follow up what appears to be 6.4 percent growth in 2017.

Extractive industries and public investment, especially in infrastructure, have largely driven these growth numbers. But the government recognizes the challenges with a large concentration of its growth dependent on its own spending.

Thus current spending allocated for 2017 and 2018 significantly focus on entrepreneurship and boosting the business landscape for SMEs, particularly as it confronts extremism in the country.

Pulling in foreign investors has not been easy and makes the growth story a more cautious one.

Kenya remains the ‘beast of the east’ but is still settling its presidential election. Many investors expect a big 2018 for the country when the dust settles (hoping the dust settles before 2018). The business environment is familiar to investors and it is the economic and financial hub for East Africa.

The country’s airline has refinanced; the financial sector has finally digested an interest rate cap; and foreign investors had to sit still during a 2017 slow down – they will want to release the pent-up capital and energy.

The excitement is nevertheless cautious, as any political situation (as seen in 2017) can cause a complete slowdown.

Mozambique is quietly getting back on track after a debt fiasco…yes the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is still investigating the fallout. That said, President Filipe Nyusi is doing his part to clean up the country’s image.

The gas story is getting back on track for LNG. Investors are returning to the country with Kibo Capital making the latest investment in the country’s consumer goods space. Other investors are lurking around agri-business, logistics and warehousing which is great news after the last 18-24 months.

A strong turnaround would touch the Lusophone hearts in Africa (including yours truly).


Zimbabwe makes the list because there are many investors who have been excited by this country for years. The economic collapse in 2008 and subsequent economic hiccups have kept many investors away.

Playing politics is not fun for investors but you can bet that there will be investors closely watching how the political situation plays out in Zimbabwe.

Any economic opening with clear investment rules and laws, followed by an improved legal system and enforcement would excite anyone looking at the country. That said, there is a significant amount of work necessary to create a favorable environment to attract capital.

Kurt Davis Jr. is an investment banker with private equity experience in emerging economies focusing on the natural resources and energy sectors. He earned a law degree in tax and commercial law at the University of Virginia’s School of Law and a master’s of business administration in finance, entrepreneurship and operations from the University of Chicago. He can be reached at


Thriving While Black: The Top 10 Cities For Black Businesses In The U.S.

In 2015, NerdWallet conducted a study based on US Census Bureau Statistics Data, analyzing entrepreneurial activity in the black community for 107 US metropolitan areas (those with populations over 100,000). Based on that study, a ranking of the best 10 metropolitan areas for black entrepreneurship was provided.

Using the same methodology and, for the most part, the same databases, Blacktech Week has taken a new look at those metropolitan areas, to see whether the same level of attractiveness for black entrepreneurs still holds. We also looked at how those same cities ranked on Kauffman Foundation’s 2017 Index for Startup Activity, to showcase how black entrepreneurs actually fare in cities ranked on the Kauffman list. The ranking is based on a total of 7 metrics measuring the economic environment and the success of black-owned businesses in each metropolitan area.

Results show that Southeastern states have a higher concentration of black businesses, with Georgia, Louisiana and Alabama each having two metropolitan areas among the top ten areas with higher percentages of black businesses in relation to the total businesses.

How different is the 2017 top ten ranking in relation to the ranking of 2015? Not much, the ten top metropolitan areas remained the same, although some changes in rank took place (the most notable change was Atlanta losing the leading spot and Memphis, TN emerging as the new leader).

Best metropolitan areas for black owned companies in 2017

1. Memphis, Tennessee (2015 rank: 3)

Memphis dethroned Atlanta as the best metro area for black owned business. With an average annual revenue almost equal to that of Atlanta, Memphis has a lower unemployment rate (the lowest among the top 10), lower cost of living index, and higher percentage of black owned businesses (2nd nationwide). The city has its own Black Business Association and has a powerful cultural life, with recent growth in showbiz, manifested in a significant number of major motion pictures filmed in the area and bio science and manufacturing.

2. Montgomery, Alabama (2015 rank: 2)

Keeping its second ranking, Montgomery has the highest percentage of black businesses nationwide. Among organizations that provide support for black-owned businesses are the Alabama State Black Chamber of Commerce and the Montgomery’s Chamber of Commerce Minority Business Development Task Force.

3. Atlanta-Sandy-Springs-Marietta, Georgia (2015 rank: 1)

While no longer holding the #1 spot for the greatest metro area for black businesses, Atlanta remains a powerful enclave for black entrepreneurs. Among the top 10, it has the highest number of businesses per 100 habitants, with almost 10. Black business owners have the support of the Atlanta Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce. The cost of living index has incremented slightly in the last 2 years (from 93.6 to 95.6), but unemployment has decreased (from 6% to 4.5%). According to the Kauffman Index (which measures entrepreneurial activity and growth at the national, state and metropolitan levels), Atlanta had a 0.43% rate of startup activity in 2016, meaning that in a given month 430 adults out of 100,000 habitants became entrepreneurs. Also, the opportunity share of new entrepreneurs (that is, the percentage of new entrepreneurs that became so out of spotting an opportunity rather than by necessity) was at 75.49%, that is, of every 4 new entrepreneurs, 3 of them took their chances because they saw a market opportunity rather than out of necessity (for instance, because they were unemployed).

4. Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, Virginia (2015 rank: 4)

The nation’s capital has the highest median annual income for black residents for all the metro areas ($ 40,297). At the same time, Washington metro area is the 1st nationwide, according to the Kauffman Index, in terms of business growth, which represents the growth of startups in terms of number of employees over the last 5 years. Some of the institutions that support black entrepreneurs are the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce and BizLaunch, an entrepreneurship program. I3 recently opened at Howard University which is DC’s first community space dedicated to Inclusive Innovation and startup incubation.

5. Savannah, Georgia (2015 rank: 6)

The coastal city has a significant industrial and economic activity. Besides the Port, manufacturing, military and tourism are important economic drivers for black business owners in the city. It is also an important black cultural hub, with a significant Jazz musical heritage.

6. Baton Rouge, Louisiana (2015 rank: 7)

Cost of living index in Baton Rouge increased from 91.3 to 96.1, but so did median annual income for black residents (from $18,047 to $23,136). The city has an important petrochemical industry, with the 4th largest refinery in the US and 10th largest in the world. It has a strong mix of cultures, forming the basis of the city motto: “Authentic Louisiana at every turn”.

7. Durham, North Carolina (2015 rank: 5)

Durham has the 3rd highest average annual revenue for black owned business, among the top 10 areas presented in this study. It has a strong start-up culture, with several accelerators, co-working spaces, and entrepreneurial convening places. The cost of living index has increased in the last 2 years, though the unemployment rate has significantly decreased from 6.1% to 3.8%.

8. Baltimore-Towson, Maryland (2015 rank: 8)

Baltimore keeps its rank among the top 10. The Baltimore Office of Sustainability offers support for black entrepreneurs, having different programs specially tailored for different context, for instance, one targeted at black moms and dads who wish to launch a startup. Unemployment in the city has been declining, although an important number of manufacturing jobs have been lost in the last years. On the other hand, the Kauffman Index for Main Street Entrepreneurship, which focuses on small business, shows a large increase in the survival rate of small business in the last years (the percentage of small business created 5 years before which were still operating).

9. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Florida (2015 rank: 10)

Despite the state having some of the lowest wages in the nation, the metro area has experimented the best of 3 worlds in the last 2 years: median annual income for black residents has increased significantly (from $16,091 to $23,309), cost of living index has decreased (from 112.6 to 106), and unemployment has also decreased (from 5.7% to 4.2%). Besides this, the Kauffman Index puts Miami at the 1st place nationwide in startup activity; in particular, it has a rate of new entrepreneurs of 0.56% (tied for greatest in the nation with Los Angeles metro area) and a very high opportunity share of 81.09%, so that of every 5 new entrepreneurs, 4 of them took their chances out of spotting an opportunity rather than experiencing a necessity.

10. Richmond, Virginia (2015 rank: 9)

Finally, Richmond keeps its place among the top 10 best metro areas in US for black-owned businesses. It has the 2nd highest average annual revenues for black-owned business among the top 10 list, only behind Washington. The Jackson Ward neighborhood is commonly referred as “the birthplace of Black capitalism” and is considered the second “Black Wall Street”, after the Greenwood district in Tulsa, Oklahoma.



1 Year After #BankBlack, America’s Biggest Black-Owned Bank Still Doing the Work

Boston Glove/Getty Images


By Michael Harriot


Hip-hop has become a cultural powerhouse that fuels everything from fashion to corporate profits. They rap in beer commercials. Politicians come to Jay-Z for endorsements. With all its faults, more than any form of art that ever existed, hip-hop has always openly acknowledged the most powerful force in America: Money.

Every conversation about equality, civil rights and justice eventually collides at the intersection of wealth. Economic inequality is the underlying cause of many of the problems that face black America. The inability to afford adequate representation fuels the disparity in convictions and sentencing in the justice system. America’s history of racist housing policies, ghettos and underfunded schools traces back to lending institutions using redlining as a tool for segregation.

After marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., boycotting buses in Montgomery, Ala., and standing on the Mall in Washington, D.C., and telling the world about his dream, at the end of his life, Martin Luther King Jr. planned the Poor Man’s March.

Every enlightened soul from Martin to Malcolm, from Tupac to the Notorious B.I.G. eventually reaches the same conclusion: It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.

On July 8, 2016, hip-hop artist Killer Mike called into a town hall meeting on MTV and BET. Instead of dispensing trite maxims and well-worn platitudes, the politically conscious rapper did what he is known for doing: offering solutions. Killer Mike called for 1 million black people to deposit $100 each into a black bank.

It worked.

#BankBlack took off across Black Twitter and officially became a movement. The 95-year old Citizens Trust Bank saw at least 8,000 new accounts in the first five days, with a minimum opening requirement of $100. A week later, black people across the country moved at least $1 million to black banks, and perhaps no bank benefited more than America’s biggest black-owned bank: OneUnited Bank.

OneUnited noticed a huge influx of new accounts after the #BankBlack hashtag began trending on social media platforms, boosting the financial institution’s $655 million in assets. The movement’s still gaining momentum, and has shown no indication of slowing down, according to the bank’s executives.

OneUnited has always been aware of this dynamic. Instead of casting itself as a bank that just happens to be black-owned, it has always wanted the world to know that it is unapologetically black, and has focused on economic empowerment for the black community since its inception.

Headquartered in Boston, OneUnited bank was started in 1968 as Unity Bank & Trust. The bank acquired other financial institutions over the years, eventually becoming the largest black-owned bank in the country. OneUnited’s chairman and CEO, Kevin Cohee, has steered the bank for years, with a focus on growing black wealth along with President and Chief Operating Officer Terri Williams.

One of OneUnited’s biggest initiatives is home ownership, which is inextricably tied to wealth and financial security. Forbes magazine reports that the lifetime financial achievement of the typical homeowner is 45 times that of the average renter. A home is usually the largest asset in a middle-class earner’s portfolio of wealth.

In 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department awarded OneUnited Bank the Bank Enterprise Award for its efforts in community-development lending. The company also teamed up with the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance to promote home ownership with the #BuyTheBlock program. OneUnited is also a designated Community Development Fund.

OneUnited offers and services mortgage loans, stressing the importance of wealth-building to its customer base. The bank also holds workshops and financial literacy seminars that highlight black economic equality. Its credit-building products are geared toward empowering its black customer base with the tools for long-term financial success.

While this may sound like marketing mumbo jumbo, there are many incidents of white-owned financial institutions perpetuating structural racism. It is an indisputable fact that some of the biggest banks in the world treat their black customers unequally.

JPMorgan Chase bank paid $55 million in January to settle charges that it discriminated against black and Latino borrowers. In 2011, Bank of America handed over $335 million for making its minority customers pay more than its white customers for the same loans. Just this past May, the city of Philadelphia filed a federal lawsuit against Wells Fargo, alleging that the bank has discriminated against black and Latino borrowers since 2004.

So why do black people continue to bank white?

It was understandable 20 years ago, when people chose their lending institution based on the branches available to them. But when was the last time you walked into a brick-and-mortar bank? If you walked into your local branch right now, would anyone in the entire building even know your name? Even worse—would anyone even care?

The primary reason is habit. People have always banked at the places with which they are familiar. In an age when people have switched their shopping habits from the local department store to Amazon, banking is one the few institutions that still benefits from old-school thinking, even though there is no benefit.

Black-owned banks have the same products, infrastructure, technology and accessibility that their whiter counterparts offer. Aside from saving and checking accounts, OneUnited offers the same mortgage-lending, commercial real estate loans, business deposit accounts and online banking that consumers rely on from white-owned, larger banks.

As #BankBlack grows, consumers who entrust their money to black-owned financial institutions will be able to see the effects of wealth-building in black communities that many white-owned banks have prevented for decades.



Median wealth of black Americans ‘will fall to zero by 2053’, warns new report


Mysia Hamilton with her five sons
‘I dare not pass this knowledge down to my kids’: Mysia Hamilton with her five sons. Photograph courtesy Mysia Hamilton

Growing up in the projects of Baltimore in the 1980s, things like savings accounts, stocks and bonds were completely foreign to Mysia Hamilton. Asked if her parents could have passed along some money to help her buy a car, go to school or put into a house, she can’t help but chuckle.

“No, that wasn’t there. There was no wealth. My mother was working, she was providing – we weren’t on the street begging – but there was no money in terms of ‘here you go’. No money to pass down.”

Now 48, Hamilton is on the path to a different reality. Working as a medical office manager and earning her college degree, the mother of five manages to squelch away $50 a month by furiously clipping coupons and being “extremely frugal”.

“$50 is definitely not my goal, but it’s all I can do with the money that’s going out,” Hamilton said. And it’s working: a decade after she began working with a financial coach, she is on track to have a positive net worth by March 2018. “I’m so driven to do that. It’s important to me.”

But Hamilton is in the minority, in execution if not intention. A new report calculates that median wealth for black Americans will fall to $0 by 2053, if current trends continue. Latino-Americans, who are also experiencing a sustained downward wealth slide, will hit $0 about two decades later, according to the study by Prosperity Now and the Institute for Policy Studies.

“By 2020, median black and Latino households stand to lose nearly 18% and 12% of the wealth they held in 2013 respectively, while median white household wealth increases by 3%,” the report states. “At that point – just three years from now – white households are projected to own 86 times more wealth than black households, and 68 times more wealth than Latino households.”

Black, Latino and white household wealth, 1983-2013
Source: Edward N Wolff, Household Wealth Trends in the United States, 1962-2013. Figures are in 2013 dollars and exclude durable goods

With the US set to become “majority minority” by 2044, researchers say this spells major economic peril for the nation. “If the racial wealth divide continues to accelerate, the economic conditions of black and Latino households will have an increasingly adverse impact on the economy writ large, because the majority of US households will no longer have enough wealth to stake their claim in the middle class.”

The authors cite the legacy of discriminatory housing policies, an “upside down” tax system that helps the wealthiest households get wealthier, and the economic effects of mass incarceration as among the root causes for the discrepancy.

“The middle class didn’t just happen by market forces, and the whiteness of the middle class didn’t just happen by market forces. Both were intentional,” said Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, a senior fellow at Prosperity Now and one of the report’s authors.

Take homeownership, which has long been the primary means by which Americans of modest and middle-class income are able to build generational wealth. After the broken promise of “40 acres and a mule” to newly freed slaves, virtually nothing was done to endow black Americans with a share of the wealth generated by centuries of slave labour – the same labour that, directly or indirectly, helped to build most of the wealth enjoyed by white Americans.

So black Americans started off generations behind, only to encounter the redlining and racially restrictive housing covenants of the early-to-middle 20th century, which prevented the sale of many homes to black Americans, and isolated them together in communities that lost value as white residents fled to the suburbs.

“The majority of white Americans weren’t middle class until the 1930s or 40s,” Asante-Muhammad told the Guardian. “Then there was mass investment to create an American middle class – but it was a white American middle class.”

Programs such as the GI bill, which offered returning WWII veterans generous lending terms to buy houses, helped turn the US into a home-owning middle class society – from which black Americans were functionally excluded. In his 2005 book When Affirmative Action was White, Ira Katznelson notes that of the first 67,000 mortgages insured by the GI Bill, fewer than 100 were taken out by non-white people.

Recent economic crises have widened this wealth gap, according to the report, as communities of colour took the brunt of the economic hit. Black median wealth has never recovered from the 2001 recession, nor Latino median wealth from the 2008 financial collapse. White median wealth, on the other hand, was left unaffected in 2002, and began rebounding just two years after the speculative housing bubble began to implode.

“Unfortunately home values don’t come back in the same way in black communities when things happen,” said Althea Saunders-Ranniar, a financial coach and advisor in Baltimore, Maryland, where about 95% of her clients are black.

One of the things Asante-Muhammad and his co-authors found extremely important was focusing on inequality of wealth as opposed to income, because they felt it was a more accurate test of middle-class status.

“You find first-generation, even second-generation African-American and Latino households that have professional jobs and are making ‘middle-income money’ – but they have the wealth of a white high-school dropout,” Asante-Muhammad said. “They’re not truly part of a middle class – which would mean financial stability, money to weather challenging economic situations, or money to invest in the economic opportunities of their children.”

The solution, he said, is to “invest in a 21st-century American middle class. We need to make sure, for the first time, that we are investing in a middle class that includes communities of colour. This generally hasn’t been done before.”

Despite all the institutional and historical barriers, Hamilton remains determined to make the lift – even if those investments never come. “I’m mad because I didn’t start 20 years ago, but it’s OK. I dare not be selfish and not pass this knowledge down to my kids – ones who I know have a chance.”

She hopes to pass more than simply knowledge down, and is on track to come up with a down payment for a modest home by late 2018. “In 20-30 years, even if they still have to pay the mortgage, I can tell them: ‘It’s yours. This is yours.’”



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