Making An Investment In Black Business

Here's how to increase your wealth by supporting and investing in African American-owned enterprises

is you want to see a return that provides growth to your net worth and assets. “I make my investment decisions based on the targeted growth that I would like from that company given its market share,” says Hall. “It may not do as well as the Standard &Poor’s, but as long as I know the top return that I am expecting, I will be happy if it hits my target.”

Another possibility is to make a direct investment through a private offering, shares sold to a small group of investors. In 1999, the Enterprising Minority Investors, an investment club in Hartford, Connecticut, invested 15% of its $104,000 portfolio in Ball Girl Inc., a minority-owned women’s sports apparel company in New York. One of the club’s founders, André Jett, had a working relationship with the firm’s management, so the group felt comfortable taking a financial position in Ball Girl, one of its nine holdings.

While private offerings have the potential to offer the greatest return on your investment, they also present the greatest risk. You could lose big. In such a scenario, you can maximize and safeguard your investment by gaining a position on the company’s board of directors. Your eligibility, of course, depends on how much you plow into the business.

Be an active shareholder. You can wield clout in America’s corporate boardroom as a shareholder. Publicly held companies are required by the SEC to hold annual meetings attended by their shareholders, company executives, boards of directors, and other interested parties.

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rom hearing the CEO’s message, shareholders get to vote on issues and voice their concerns. A small number of large shareholders can possess enough voting power to decide the outcome of an issue. Individuals or groups owning at least $1,000 worth of company stock, can submit a formal proposal or resolution for consideration.

A community organizer and Pan-Africanist, Kamau Odinga cofounded the PULA Project Investment Club in Luling, Louisiana. Members of the club believe in exercising their rights as shareholders. They have written letters to the boards and management of Home Depot and Winn Dixie with respect to their policies and practices relating to race and sex discrimination.

“Our position is that when you own shares of a company, you are part owner of the company itself,” says Odinga. “You can now go to the CEO and say, ‘I don’t like the way you are managing my company.’” The five-year-old club owns shares in 15 companies, with a portfolio valued above $200,000.

Odinga adds that he wants to see African Americans take 10% of their $250 billion in purchasing power and bring it to the market each year by purchasing major ownership in companies. He thinks investors should set a goal, over the next 10 years, of buying shares in at least 12% of America’s Fortune 500 corporations.

To learn more about attending shareholder’s meetings, you can contact the company’s investor relations department. It’s important that you exercise your voice in the businesses in which you have a significant stake as an investor and

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