Black-owned OneUnited Bank lends to small businesses in Miami


OneUnited Bank President Teri Williams believes in the power bank loans can give black entrepreneurs.

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Salter

With Miami housing redevelopments like Liberty Square, Liberty City is gaining momentum economically.

Now, the largest black-owned bank in America, which has a client branch in the downtown district, has begun helping local black entrepreneurs access the financial resources needed to sustain their businesses.

To do this, OneUnited Bank last month partnered with Lendristy, a black-owned fintech company. Its OneTransaction program goes beyond commercial loans and offers customers six options in business and personal banking services, such as home equity loans, savings and investment accounts and insurance, as means to build up a heritage. Although based in Boston, it is in Miami that the bank creates programs to reach the black community, then they are rolled out to other parts of the country.

OneUnited President Teri Williams said loans to black business owners are “so important and so needed, but so difficult (to access) in our community.”

Kerrington Eubanks, senior vice president of Lendistry, agreed, noting that providing access to capital for small businesses to grow is central to Lendistry’s mission.

Williams said the partnership with Lendristy made sense because of how Lendristy treated customers during the pandemic.

“We have agreed on how to treat our customers,” the OneUnited executive said. “Some customers have gone through (the Paycheck Protection Program). But for many customers it was difficult, and Lendistry treated those customers with respect. They were very respectful of people who needed more help and referred them to us and others who needed it.

Through this partnership, OneUnited provides working capital and loans to businesses that have been in operation for at least two years. The smallest loan a business can apply for is $50,000 and the maximum amount is $5 million. Loans can be used by entrepreneurs to maintain working capital.

Williams hopes younger generations of black entrepreneurs will buy businesses from aging owners and keep the legacy of those businesses alive in Miami communities like Liberty City.

During his 25 years in the banking industry, Williams found that succession, or the passing of a business from one family member to another, was a rare event. She has noticed that many business owners eventually see their children move elsewhere and that these owners sometimes close their doors because no one is there to buy their businesses. Or in many cases, the people buying these companies aren’t black, she said.

“One of the things I don’t think we’re focusing enough on is buying existing businesses,” she said. “These (already) generate cash flow and have been in operation for a long time. Sometimes it’s about bringing (next) generation technology to these companies to make them more successful. »

OneUnited Bank in Miami works with small businesses and consumers to help them operate and build wealth. This photo shows the bank’s office on NW 79th Street. MATIAS J. OCNER [email protected]

Williams knows the success that can be achieved by starting from an existing business. OneUnited was created in 1968, after the purchase and merger of four black-owned banks. The bank opened in Miami in 1999. Its local office is at 3275 NW 79th St.

According to OneUnited research, Williams said 85% of the bank’s customers are black. These customers range from people who live off a paycheck to customers who have millions of dollars. Black OneUnited customers also tend to have average incomes and higher levels of education.

In addition to small business loans, Williams believes the accompanying OneTransaction podcast can make financial literacy more understandable for people of all backgrounds.

“We are working to make financial literacy a core value in our community,” she said. “Money was kind of a taboo subject when I was growing up and I couldn’t understand it. I grew up thinking, ‘I don’t think a kid shouldn’t be able to understand that.’ You have to know the rules and make the rules work for you.

Michael Butler writes about the residential and commercial real estate industry and local housing market trends. Like Miami’s diverse population, Butler, a graduate of Temple University, has both local roots and Panamanian heritage.

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