Get to know ReShonda Young, who is working on opening the only Black-owned bank in Iowa

Abu Mubarik February 25, 2022
ReShonda Young. Photo: Wartburg College

ReShonda Young is a businesswoman and an entrepreneur in Iowa and beyond who wants to break down racial barriers in the banking industry. To this end, she wants to establish the first Black-owned bank in her state of Iowa.

She has even kick-started the process. For instance, she has found a location for her bank, the Ambassadors For Christ Church in the town of Waterloo. Beyond that, she has also started conversations with federal regulators, according to USA Today.

So far, Young, 46, has raised five percent of the $10 million she needs to start her bank. Although the money raised so far is not anywhere close to the amount she needs, she remains optimistic about achieving her goal.

Prior to exploring the idea of owning a bank, the young businesswoman and owner of a gourmet popcorn franchise called Popcorn Heaven was helping Blacks to own homes by buying homes to rent out. She has also assisted other Black entrepreneurs in Waterloo.

Of about 5,000 banks in the U.S., the number of those Black-owned or Black-led dropped to 19 from 49 in the past 20 years due to lack of capital, data cited by USA Today said.

For Young, owning a bank is part of her own way of narrowing the wealth gap in America. The average White household in the U.S. today has amassed about seven times more wealth than the average Black household. Although Young’s bank may not do much to address the racial wealth gap in her society, the long-term benefit is enormous.

Her grandparents sharecropped in Mississippi. Her parents also worked long hours in the fields, picking cotton. Not much was left for the family to inherit. While working at an investment firm, Young got to know how much some of her white peers’ grandparents were able to leave their own children.

“My classmates will inherit that, and I think it’s awesome,” Young told USA Today. “Unfortunately, that’s not the story for myself and many others.”

There and then, she knew that wealth disparities between Black and white households in America will continue to grow. So she decided to do something about it. Young sued the federal government in 2019 and won, compelling the banks to disclose race and other demographics in their small business loan decisions as a 2010 law required.

She now hopes that opening a bank will help “defeat the wealth gap”. Even though it may be a long process, Young is optimistic about making it happen.

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