( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) Largest Black-Owned Bank Brings Light to Dark Times
ENSPIRE Contributor: Logan Floyd
In a time when African-Americans are facing violence and adversity on seemingly every front, OneUnited Bank is working to help the Black community not just survive, but thrive. The largest Black-owned bank in the country and the first Black-owned internet bank, OneUnited, is dedicated to assisting Black businesses that would sometimes pass over for financial loans and support. OneUnited also helps empower the community through financial literacy workshops and events designed to assist Black Americans in taking back their financial independence.
During the COVID-19 crisis, a staggering 95 percent of Black-owned businesses stand next to no chance of receiving a loan through the small business Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This is because the Small Business Association (SBA) directs most of its loans toward larger institutions and companies. As of now, most Black-owned businesses are self-funded, with very few receiving outside capital. OneUnited Bank has worked to change this, offering loans to black small businesses that have been hit by the pandemic.
“OneUnited Bank was proud to offer PPP SBA loan funds for Black businesses, many
that had been locked out of the first wave of COVID-19 small business stimulus money,” said Kevin Cohee, chairman and CEO of OneUnited Bank.
Even though OneUnited Bank does not generally do small business loans, the bank felt compelled to lead by example during this moment of crisis. During the second wave of stimulus money, OneUnited Bank fought to secure funds for customers in the black community.
“Most of our customers who filed PPP applications with other institutions during the first round were not funded,” said Teri Williams, president and COO of OneUnited Bank. “We’re proud that OneUnited can step up to provide Black businesses with better access to stimulus funding.”
A designated Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), OneUnited Bank has always been dedicated to serving low to moderate-income communities. OneUnited Bank has supported Black communities through online financial education workshops, designed to help black business owners and consumers make smarter choices when it comes to planning, spending and investing. With its origins rooted in the belief of black freedom and independence, OneUnited Bank has additionally been a strong supporter of black activism, proudly backing the Black Lives Matter movement and the ACLU, among other organizations.
Even though black people still face institutional and financial discrimination, organizations like OneUnited Bank are working towards giving black Americans back their financial power and independence. In a time of turmoil and doubt, the black-owned bank stands as a testament to what black Americans can accomplish if they put their minds to it. So long as strong individuals like Williams and Cohee continue to lead the charge for black equality, hope for a better future for black people in America will always survive.