ReShonda Young is trying to change her home state of Iowa by becoming the first person to open a Black-owned bank in the Hawkeye state.
Young, a well-known businesswoman in the state and beyond, wants to break down the economic barriers and systemic racism in the banking industry and in her state, which often strangle the dreams of Black entrepreneurs.
She’s even found a location for her bank, the Ambassadors For Christ Church in the town of Waterloo. Now comes the hard part, convincing investors to buy in and buy in big.
According to USA Today, Young’s target amount to get started is $10 million. So far, Young says she has about 5% of the money needed. She’s also had conversations with federal regulators.
However, Young’s goal also points to what many Americans and specifically Black people have known for decades, the racial wealth gap will keep growing and Black Americans as a whole will continue to be left behind.
Due to decades of systemic racism, Black Americans have fewer savings in their bank accounts, less access to credit, and smaller credit accounts. The situation also extends to small Black businesses, which struggle to raise seed money and get started.
Young, who previously owned Popcorn Heaven, has been helping Black Americans for years, buying homes to rent out, and has helped other Black entrepreneurs in Waterloo. She also sued the federal government in 2019 and won, forcing the federal government to push financial institutions to release race and other demographics of small business loan decisions as required by a 2010 law.
The racial wealth gap has gotten so wide between Black and white Americans that the trend cannot be reversed without significant federal intervention.
Young isn’t holding her breath; instead, she’s trying to be the change she wants to see. Black-owned banks have received significant investment in recent years due to the Black Lives Matter movement and the focus on social equity, but Black banks say more help and money is needed to begin closing the wealth gap.