Benaisha Poole-Watson, a famous realtor and business mogul, is the first Afro-Latina to own an FDIC bank. She is a native of South Central Los Angeles’ Crenshaw District, where she witnessed the effects of persistent institutional failure and extreme poverty.
Poole-Watson and her sister, who died at the age of 10, were raised by their Guatemalan immigrant mother, who had to work ten-hour days to support her family after her divorce from her African-American husband. The entrepreneur shared that her mother’s perseverance influenced her current success.
“My mother is an immigrant, and she didn’t get a 401k until she was in her 40s. She worked at a job and didn’t have her retirement set up. So when learning about finances, I learned indirectly. I was just curious and asked the questions. I watched the people around me and noticed the mistakes they would make. So I dug deeper and familiarized myself with how money works,” Poole-Watson told Revolt.
The entrepreneur had a child by the age of 19, and she started working 50+ hours each week at several jobs. To give her child a better life, she took steps including joining the military (serving for 9 years in the United States Air Force), training to be a flight attendant, and getting a job in law enforcement, according to Kazi.
Poole-Watson went on to establish a brokerage firm, the Bailey Watson Real Estate Group, in 2018 with her friend Lori Bailey and by 2022, she had been recognized as one of the top 1% of realtors in the country, with over 400 homes sold a year.
According to her, she takes great delight in assisting people in finding housing. While speaking at a real estate conference, a participant suggested opening a bank.
Watson-Poole was inspired to make history, establishing her own Fannie Mae-approved and federally regulated bank, Prime One Lending Group, And Home Loans, in 2021, where she currently serves as a direct lender. She aimed to create the bank in a way that provided potential customers who were typically underserved with some leverage.
“I don’t accept deposits. I’m here to give the funding. So, I fund nationwide, and I’m just here to empower our community and inspire our people to let them know that there is a safe place that you can do business, where we can loan you money in an equal and equitable manner and get you to your next step into generational wealth,” she told Revolt.
Poole-Watson has a master’s degree in political management and a master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and has also studied law at the University of Maryland College Park.
Poole-Watson has had her real estate license since 2015 and has been recognized as the Top 100 Real Estate Agent in the United States of America, the #2 Realtor in Dallas, and the #19 Realtor in Texas, Kazi noted.
She has been praised for starting her bank as per FDIC data, only 23 out of 5,400 insured financial institutions in the United States were Black-owned and operated.