Investing back into the communities they serve would seem to be a natural fit for most banks, but for so long, the Black and Latinx communities have not seen that reinvestment. Greenwood is changing that, and the digital banking platform has welcomed a series of powerhouse investors including rapper/activist Killer Mike, former Congressman Andrew Young and now actor/activist Jesse Williams.
Williams is part of a new campaign to reach the underserved population with a Black-owned financial services provider that reinvests and recirculates its dollars in Black and Latinx communities.
In the ad titled “You Ready?,” Williams walks through a collage of Black and Latinx-owned businesses while he, Michael Render (aka Killer Mike), and Greenwood co-founder and entrepreneur Ryan Glover talk about using the power of these businesses to rebuild infrastructure, continuing the legacy of Black economic excellence.
The spot is the first of three to introduce the platform, according to David Tapscott, CMO of Greenwood.
“There are two acts to follow. Act 1 is creating the anticipation that something is coming that is finally going to address the consumer and business needs of Black and Latinx communities uniquely,” said Tapscott, who was the first employee hired by Render, Young and Glover. “Act 2 will be the bridging of the Greenwood district historically—that was subsequently burned down, but the spirit never burned—in Tulsa, Oklahoma during the race riots [in 1921] to the modern-day Greenwood that is us. And then Act 3 will be an exploration of the product features and benefits specifically.”
Greenwood was a Black district in Tulsa that was prosperous and full of successful businesses, often called Black Wall Street. Its violent eradication created a hole in the culture that was never healed as the country continued to grow. The modern Greenwood hopes to capture the original entrepreneurial spirit while building trust and recirculating money back into Black and Latinx communities.
Tapscott said that at the height of its success, Greenwood circulated the money back through the community 36 times before it left, compared to just six to 10 times in current communities.
“If our mission is to create wealth in our community through modern banking—through financial education, changing the heart, mind, head and the recirculation of dollars—we’re executing that through a vision of restoring the arc of history through a modern fin-tech banking platform,” he said. “That’s recreating the excellence of Black Wall Street for today’s Black and Latinx banking customers. To advance all the racial justice discussions in America, we needed an economic system powered by a banking platform that specifically spoke to the needs of Blacks and Latinx communities, uniquely and unapologetically, and welcomes our allies to that mission.”
One of those allies is NBCUniversal, which deposited $1 million as Greenwood’s first institutional depositor. In October, the banking app also secured $3 million in seed funding from private investors. So far, close to a quarter of a million people have signed up to be a part of Greenwood.
Opening a financial institution during a pandemic is difficult enough, but Covid-19 has disproportionally affected people of color. The Black Lives Matter national awakening put a spotlight on the value of supporting people, missions and companies that give explicit support back. In this, Greenwood’s ability to use financial technology can be a profound way to unite these efforts.
“The pandemic has taught people that ‘I actually don’t need to have a brick-and-mortar bank when I have a bank in my hand.’ So, our long-term idea is to leverage fin tech so we will become the No. 1 acquisition arm for people of color to any financial service,” Tapscott said.