Profiles in Prosperity: How Black Banking Delivers for Customers and Communities

Efforts to improve diversity in banking and investments in Black-owned banks are paying off in communities across the country. According to BankBlack: “Black-owned and operated, financial institutions are pillars in the socioeconomic and entrepreneurial growth and progression of the Black community and its commerce.” In fact, the mission-first organization finds that 67% of loans from Black-owned banks are made to Black borrowers and 59% of Black-owned banks have branches located in Black communities.

Along with investments in Black communities, we’re also seeing profiles of accomplishment – from the banks and the customers – emerging as beacons of hope for underbanked communities. A new feature from Independent Banker highlights several such success stories. From institutions that grew out of the civil rights movement to newer upstarts that bring fresh thinking to banking, black banking is reinvesting in communities of color and paying it forward to the next generation. Take, for instance, these two examples of fruitful relationships between banks and their customers:

OneUnited Bank & Public Security, Inc. – The largest Black-owned bank in the United States, OneUnited has been serving communities of color since 1968. According to COO Terri Williams, the bank was started because “African-Americans couldn’t get financial services from white-owned banks.” Therefore, it was almost serendipitous when Public Security, Inc. – a personal security company whose employees are mostly African-American – reached out to OneUnited for banking services. On top of providing a line of credit to grow the business, and a PPP loan to weather the pandemic, bankers at OneUnited helped Black employees of Public Security, Inc. open savings accounts, in addition to cashing their checks.

OneUnited Bank president and COO Teri Williams with volunteers at a holiday food distribution event in partnership with local charity Joshua’s Heart Food Pantry. More than 200 families each received a trunkload of food. Photo courtesy OneUnited Bank in Independent Banker, February 1, 2022

Citizens Savings Bank and Trust & InnerG Juice & Yoga – Starting your own business is hard, but funding is often harder. Raising capital can be daunting for anyone, but even more so for young women of color. So, when Nielah Burnett was starting InnerG Juice & Yoga studio, she came to Citizens Bank and found a champion in Jeff McGruder. He says, “She just needed someone to take a chance on her, to give her $50,000 on a line of credit, and a term loan to help build out the store… I knew personally where she was going was a great location, because I financed the project where she was a tenant… I [also] knew what other companies were coming in around it. That’s how understanding your customer and knowing your neighborhood makes a big difference.”

Photo courtesy of Citizens Savings Bank and Trust Companyin Independent Banker, February 1, 2022

To learn more about Black banking, serving underbanked communities and how the financial industry is helping build banking diversity, email