Meet The Founder Behind Maryland’s First Pre-Approved Black-Owned 5-County Federal Credit Union

Meet Troy Smith, the Founder and CEO of G1 Investment LLC and the United States Economic Rights Coalition (USERC), who is working with seven other African Americans to launch the proposed C3 Federal Credit Union, which will be Maryland’s first-ever Black-owned 5-county Federal Credit Union. His group began meeting in March of last year to develop an FCU to serve their communities’ underrepresented African American and Hispanic residents.

Troy and his team are working hard to raise $10 million in donated capital. Their goal is to convince 100,000 people to donate just $100. They are based in Charles County and Prince George’s County, Maryland, and have worked throughout the year on the NCUA Proof of Concept submission, which requires the organizers to rigorously research all the legal characteristics of chartering a federal credit union, specifically focusing on their Purpose and Core Values, Field of Membership, Subscribers, and Capital Funding Plan. NCUA reviews and scores each Critical Element in the Proof of Concept using a 100-point scale, providing a score of up to 25 points for each element.

For groups meeting the minimum score of 80, the NCUA will send a formal invitation to submit a full charter application. Proposed C3 Federal Credit Union has received that formal invitation. Meet the leader of a group of volunteers who worked all 2023 to submit a Proof of Concept application to the National Credit Union Association (NCUA) to establish a black-owned five-county community development Federal Credit Union Charter. The National Credit Union Association (NCUA) issued a historic Pre-Approval letter to Proposed C3 Federal Credit Union on January 28, 2024.

For the first time in Maryland history, the NCUA has preliminarily agreed to consider these five counties in Maryland as one community — Charles, Prince George’s, Calvert, St. Mary’s, and Anne Arundel—just under 2 million potential members. Federal Credit Unions (FCU) differ from banks in that their depositors equally own them, and they are geographically restrictive. FCUs must identify a Field of Membership (FOM) based on a common bond. The common bond can be occupational, associational, or community-based. Community chartered FCUs can have a field of membership (FOM) that consists of a single political jurisdiction or multiple contiguous political jurisdictions so long as the population is 2.5 million or less.

“The Federal Credit Union system is the most powerful financial institutional framework available in our country because it puts power in the hands of the people who make the deposits. Whereas a bank, especially large US banks, take deposits from the general body of people and funnel loans into the hands of their preferred account holders, leaving African American and Hispanic businesses and individuals chronically underfunded and voiceless,” says Troy.

Phase 2 of the chartering process includes preparing a business plan, developing a proforma, surveying the proposed field of membership (FOM), and raising capital.

C3’s mission is to financially strengthen the Maryland community by providing financial literacy workshops, entrepreneurship training, and investment educational seminars while ensuring access to responsible credit, savings, and business services in an environment filled with hospitality and compassion.

C3 will work to educate youth and adults on the purpose and importance of savings and investing and on understanding how to handle capital responsibly. The proposed federal credit union will support the local business community by providing business services, education, and loan products to keep the business community at the cutting edge of information and technology and well-leveraged to compete in an ever-aggressive competitive economy.

The following steps for this initiative are for the proposed federal credit union to survey the field of membership and begin raising the capital needed to bring this vision to life. If you live in any of the following counties (Charles, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, Calvert, St. Mary’s), please complete the survey, as they need at least 384 surveys completed to qualify.

C3 seeks $10 million in donated capital to launch the proposed federal credit union. To donate, please visit:

To watch the DocuSeries created please visit the following links:

• Official Trailer:
• Full Episode:

Troy adds, “It is time to re-experience the power of intentional collaboration and show society that significant and impactful things can happen when people come together and demonstrate their strength.”

For press inquiries, contact Proposed C3 Federal Credit Union at


First Black-Owned Cosmetology School In New Jersey To Partner With Beyoncé’s BeyGOOD Foundation

Jana’s Cosmetology Academy, the first ever Black-owned cosmetology school in the entire state of New Jersey, is celebrating having been selected to receive funding from global icon Beyonce’s BeyGOOD Foundation. The academy will receive essential financial support for cosmetology students and professional hair stylists within the beauty industry.

BeyGOOD, the philanthropic initiative founded by Beyoncé, recently announced the launch of the Cécred x BeyGOOD Fund and through an annual allocation of $500,000, will offer scholarships and salon business grants in five parts of the country known for their vibrant and diverse community of hair stylists. The chosen cities are Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and the exciting addition of New Jersey.

For individuals interested in pursuing a career in cosmetology and making their mark in the beauty industry, Jana’s Cosmetology Academy is now accepting applications. To take the first step towards your dream career, text “BEYXJCA” to 856-733-JCA1 to receive an exclusive application link and start your journey today.

Atiya Johnson, Founder and CEO of the academy, comments, “Join us in celebrating this incredible opportunity to support the next generation of talented cosmetology professionals. Together, we can make a meaningful impact in the beauty industry and empower individuals to succeed in their passion for hair styling and cosmetology.”

About BeyGOOD
BeyGOOD is a global initiative founded by Beyoncé that focuses on making a positive impact in the areas of education, health, and social justice. Through various programs and partnerships, BeyGOOD strives to empower individuals and communities to reach their full potential. Learn more at

About Jana’s Cosmetology Academy:
Jana’s Cosmetology Academy is a leading cosmetology school dedicated to providing high-quality education and training to aspiring cosmetologists and hair stylists. With a commitment to excellence and innovation, Jana’s Cosmetology Academy prepares students for successful careers in the beauty industry. To learn more about this exciting partnership and how you can get involved, please visit or visit in person at 1397 Blackwood-Clementon Road, Clementon, NJ 08021.

For media inquiries or further information, please contact: Devon K. Hall, Director of Community Affairs,, 856-733-JCA1.


Two Black Women Founders Acquire Historic Building In Downtown Pittsburgh For $4M

Khamil Bailey and Samantha Black, the founders of The Greenwood Plan, a nonprofit organization rooted in empowering Black entrepreneurship, have made a significant milestone in downtown Pittsburgh by taking ownership of the iconic Pitt Building for $4 million. The three-story structure is set to transform into a dynamic hub for Black creatives, freelancers, and business professionals.

The Greenwood Plan, named after Tulsa’s Greenwood District also known as Black Wall Street, officially sealed the deal in December 2023.

“We want this to be a Black business incubator… allow Black businesses to operate in downtown storefronts where they may not have otherwise been able to do so because the terms are not normally favorable,” Bailey told the New Pittsburgh Courier.

Bailey emphasized their approach involves programming and rent subsidies, offering a helping hand to navigate these spaces and tap into the revenue that comes with the downtown traffic.

Among Bailey’s plans is the inclusion of Black chefs and restaurateurs, aiming to create a four-star restaurant focusing on high-quality Black cuisine. The Pitt Building’s second floor already hosts Emerald City, a 12,000-square-foot coworking and social space launched by The Greenwood Plan in 2021.

Now with the whole building in their ownership, The Greenwood Plan seeks to connect partners, resources, and initiatives to Black entrepreneurs, professionals, gig workers, and creatives. Greenwood Week and its annual business conference remain a pivotal event in their strategic plan, aiming to democratize knowledge and build social capital in the Pittsburgh Black business community.

“I know that back in the early 1900s, there were Black businesses that operated Downtown,” Bailey said. “We want to bring that back, remind people that we (African Americans) are a part of a thriving economy just as anybody else, not just as consumers but as wealth-builders.”

Learn more about the organization via its official website at

Also, be sure to follow them on Instagram @GreenwoodPlan


Founder Of Black-Owned Payroll Company Partners With Major 401(K) Provider To Help Black Businesses Grow Wealth & Assets

Bryon Jennings, the Founder and CEO of Next Generation Payroll, a Black-owned Dallas, Texas-based company specializing in payroll processing and human resource management, has partnered with an industry-leading retirement savings company called Human Interest. The goal is to create meaningful investment opportunities for small businesses aiming specifically to extend investment opportunities to Black and minority-owned businesses. Additionally, the employees of these companies benefit tremendously as they are presented with the opportunity to make wise investment choices that help them get on track for retirement and future asset acquisitions.

The landscape of retirement planning in America is rapidly changing with an increasing number of states aligning the Secure Act 2.0, making it mandatory for employers to provide retirement investment options for their workforce or face steep penalties. Since nearly 50% of the workforce in the United States currently does not have any assets saved for retirement, more and more states are enacting mandatory retirement plans for businesses. Currently, sixteen states require businesses to offer mandatory investment programs: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

To incentivize businesses to offer investment plans to their employees, the federal government offers business owners a $5,000 tax credit for each employee who enrolls in a 401k investment plan.

As a part of the partnership, Next Generation Payroll and Human Interest are also extending a technology Credit to cover the first year’s administrative costs of implementing a 401(k) plan. An enrolled company could receive anywhere between $500 to $10,000 in technology credits just for signing up.

Bryon comments, “With greater access to investment programs, we can take another step forward in building wealth within our communities. A 401k portfolio is a great asset to have because it not only prepares us for retirement but can also be used as leverage for economic gain in other arenas. This program is a win for everyone who participates.”

Employers who already offer benefits or have a 401k plan in place will likely see significant cost savings from their current provider as the industry typically charges 1.64% on account balances while Human Interests’ advisory fees hover at 0.50%. With an overall reduced fee structure, businesses save thousands of dollars, and the employees have more opportunities to grow their portfolios.

In an era where retirement security and business growth go hand in hand, Next Generation Payroll and Human Interest are poised to make a meaningful impact. This collaboration not only equips businesses to provide robust retirement plans but also champions the financial well-being of employees. Together, they are pioneering a path toward a more secure and prosperous retirement future for all.

To learn more about Next Generation Payroll, visit their official website at

Next Generation Payroll is a 100% Black-owned premier provider of quality financial solutions to small businesses. Based in the Dallas, Texas area, the company specializes in providing payroll, human resource management software, employee benefits, and an array of resources to help small businesses operate efficiently.

For press inquiries, contact (214) 396-2200 or send an email to


Comerica Bank Backs Black Woman In Launching Program Designed To Help African And Caribbean Entrepreneurs Get Access To Capital

VentureHue, a Detroit, Michigan-based business support organization that provides technical assistance to technology entrepreneurs and traditional small business owners nationwide, has partnered with the Global African Business Association (GABA) to launch VentureHue ACCESS Lab, Sponsored by Comerica Bank. Comerica Charitable Foundation has provided GABA with a grant to launch the program. Brittni Abiolu, Founder & Managing Director at VentureHue, will oversee the program.

What Is It?

The program is a FREE 6-week (virtual) capital readiness accelerator designed to educate entrepreneurs on how to best position their businesses to raise capital. The accelerator consists of 6 classes lasting up to 2 hours each, covering subjects around debt and equity financing, establishing product market fit, gaining traction, building business credit, and finding grants.

Benefits of the Program

By the end of the accelerator program, participants will understand the many types of capital sources available, how to find them, and how to qualify for funding from those capital sources. Business finance experts from Comerica Bank (and other financial institutions) will also attend several sessions to provide information and advice, and answer questions.

Participants will learn about various types of Comerica Bank products and services provided including their financing solutions for early-stage companies in the technology sector and other financing products for small businesses.

Participants who successfully complete the program will get 6 FREE one-on-one sessions with the class instructor to further assist them in their fundraising efforts. They will also be considered for future opportunities to apply for grants and debt and/or equity funding through other VentureHue programs.

How This is Different from Other Accelerators

Other accelerators may focus on product development or customer discovery (it varies). The program focuses on how to better position and prepare your business to raise capital. It helps applicants to understand where they need to be and what they need to do to get there to meet their capital-raising goals. Our program mission is to help entrepreneurs with limited access to capital, networks, and other resources get the education and support they need to scale their businesses and fuel job creation.

Who Should Apply

Our primary focus is to assist diverse, underrepresented, and overlooked entrepreneurs (especially of African and Caribbean descent) that have already identified their product or service offering, have some traction/skin in the game (e.g. customers, users, live website, app, etc.),  and need funding for growth.

How to Apply

We are currently accepting applications for the program. Click here to apply.

Application deadline is Friday, March 22, 2024. Accepted applicants will be announced by April 5, 2024. Accelerator starts Thursday, April 18, 2024.

There will be information sessions held every Friday in February 2024. To get your questions answered and learn more about the program, click on the application link above to register for one of the information sessions.

For media, partnership, or sponsorship inquiries, please contact accesslab[at]


Meet The 39-Year-Old Black Mom Investor Who Flips Mobile Homes

Meet Nichole Briscoe, a 39-year-old African American mom and social worker from Burlington, North Carolina who doubled her monthly earnings from $3,000 to $7,000 as she built her side hustle of flipping mobile homes.

Nichole, living with her husband and daughter, initially aimed to invest in real estate for extra family income, she told Business Insider. However, faced with the high prices of single-family homes, she discovered a niche in the market for mobile homes. These affordable prefab structures, often serving as permanent residences, have a demand, especially for those unable to afford traditional houses.

Inspired to delve into real estate, Nichole took a $500 course on mobile home investments, enabling her to enter this market. She secured a $20,000 home improvement loan, rehabbing mobile homes in North Carolina for under $10,000. After renovation costs ranging from $3,000 to $15,000, she sells these homes for nearly double or triple her investment.

Briscoe’s flips, typically 900 sq ft with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, attract buyers without active marketing. Word of mouth and social media, like Facebook and Instagram, generate enough interest. She even has a waiting list for her properties, indicating the strong demand for affordable housing.

Making the homes even more accessible, she offers a “rent-to-own” option. Buyers pay monthly installments of $600 to $900 until they meet the sale price, allowing flexibility over three to five years.

Beyond flipping, Nichole engages in wholesaling, a strategy where she contracts with a seller at a lower price and finds a buyer willing to pay more without renovation costs. This approach has earned her about $45,000 from wholesaling 13 mobile homes.

Moreover, she has established an LLC called Eliam Properties and shares her journey on Instagram as “The Mobile Home Mami” with her over 93,000 followers. Despite her success, Nichole plans to continue balancing her social work with her real estate business, seeing the potential for a full-time transition in the future.

“I do really love my job working with students,” she said. “In the future, I definitely see potential in this becoming full time but not right now.”

Be sure to follow Nichole on her Instagram @MobileHome_Mami

Also, be sure to join her Facebook group where she teaches how to invest in mobile homes.


Black Woman Who Used $50K Saved For Her Wedding To Start A Business Is Now Worth $2M

Teri Johnson, a 47-year-old African American woman from New York City, turned her passion for Harlem’s cultural heritage into a thriving luxury candle business. In 2015, she founded Harlem Candle Company using $50,000 originally saved for her wedding and now it boasts an annual revenue of $2 million.

When Johnson moved to Harlem in 2000, the rich cultural history of Black icons that surrounded the community reignited her deep passion for Black culture. In 2014, she started crafting scented candles in her kitchen as gifts for her family and friends, realizing an opportunity to blend her hobby with Harlem’s cultural heritage.

“Everything just fell into place,” Johnson told Inc. “I was encouraged by friends and family who had received my candles. I was making the candles in Harlem and I loved the Harlem Renaissance. My goal became to put Harlem on the map with a beautiful, luxurious fragrance.”

As a former management consultant armed with an MBA from Florida A&M, an HBCU, Johnson effortlessly navigated the business landscape. However, the challenging part turned out to be funding her venture. That’s when she decided to repurpose the $50,000 intended for her wedding, convinced her parents she wouldn’t get married anymore, and redirected the funds toward inventory.

Since then, Harlem Candle Company, which initially sold $50 luxury candles each, has grown into a business worth $2 million in annual sales. Her luxury candles, which pay homage to the Harlem Renaissance, are now sold in 134 stores, including major retailers like Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, and Macy’s. Johnson has also ventured into corporate gifting, securing clients such as JP Morgan Chase, Google, and Meta.

What sets her candles apart is the storytelling aspect, each fragrance and packaging telling the tales of Black luminaries such as Josephine Baker, Duke Ellington, and Langston Hughes, among others. One of her creations, Purple Love, a floral-accented candle inspired by James Baldwin, even earned a spot on Oprah’s Favorite Things list in 2023.

“I do my research, and my perfumers take my vision and go deeper to create these essences that really do transport you back to a 1920s speakeasy or to the creative space of a Langston Hughes,” she said.

Beyond candles, Johnson expands her creative endeavors with the Harlem Design Company, set to launch journals celebrating the Harlem Renaissance. As she continues to draw inspiration from the past, her brand becomes a bridge between history and the present, capturing the essence of the Harlem Renaissance for a new generation.

“With me being a Black woman, having a business based here, and celebrating Black culture that celebrates Black excellence, and Black history, I felt a very strong responsibility to be a part of it,” she said.

Learn more about her company via its official website at


Group Of Black Farmers Secure $1.25M In Funding To Acquire Land In California

Ujamaa Farmer Collective has recently secured $1.25 million in funding from the state of California to help Black farmers acquire the land they need to grow their businesses. This funding marks a crucial step towards addressing the historical disparities in land ownership faced by Black farmers.

Ujamaa Farmer Collective, a nonprofit founded by Black farmers Nelson Hawkins, Nathaniel Brown, and Keith Hudson, aims to empower historically underserved farmers by claiming cooperative land ownership.

Currently, BIPOC farmers in the United States own less than two percent of all farmland. A farm in West Sacramento called We Grow Farms, which supplies local residents with much-needed produce, is even facing the challenge of potential housing development on their leased land.

To address the issue, the Ujamaa Farmer Collective plans to acquire land in Yolo County, California using the $1.25 million funding granted in 2022 by the California legislative. The land will be divided into smaller plots ranging from half an acre to five acres. This allows multiple farms to operate independently while sharing resources.

Ujamaa, which means “extended family” in Swahili, embodies cooperative economics and inclusivity. Their goal is to “elevate everybody’s potential so [we] can all thrive,” Hawkins told Because of Them We Can.

Unlike other agricultural collectives, Ujamaa is led by Black farmers who have historically faced barriers to land ownership. This initiative focuses on redistributing opportunities to Black farmers, amplifying their voices, and building a more resilient community.

Learn more about Ujamaa Farmer Collective via its official website at

Also, be sure to follow the brand on Instagram @UjamaaFarmerCollective


Meet The Accountant Who Has Helped Black-Owned Businesses Recover From $500K In Taxes Owed

Robin Boyd, the Founder and CEO of Essential Accounting Consultants has emerged as a savior for Black-owned businesses. Over the years, she has supported thousands of small business clients with debt forgiveness and tax resolution solutions. It has helped them overcome financial hurdles.

“We understand that finances can be tough for small businesses, especially if they don’t start on a good note,” says Robin. “Our professional team can run through your accounting numbers and finances and suggest the best solutions to overcome the problem. We are fully equipped to handle every aspect of your business finance from start to finish.”

Robin and her firm have earned nationwide acclaim for her track record of supporting small businesses and helping them grow. With a wealth of experience spanning numerous years, she has provided invaluable assistance to thousands of small business clientele. Her remarkable achievements have not gone unnoticed, as she was recognized by Forbes for her exceptional contributions to the world of accounting and business development.

Her dedication and expertise continue to be a beacon of support for the countless entrepreneurs and small businesses she has served throughout her illustrious career.

Through her exceptional financial expertise and astute business acumen, Robin has played a pivotal role in safeguarding the operational continuity of numerous small enterprises. In the complex field of taxation, where businesses can inadvertently fall behind in fulfilling their obligations to state and federal authorities, her Tax Resolution Service has emerged as a lifeline for struggling small businesses.

Under Robin’s experienced guidance and with the support of her team of skilled accountants and tax resolution specialists, she tirelessly advocates for these business owners when dealing with the IRS. Her efforts have resulted in the forgiveness of tax liabilities, enabling these businesses to regain their financial footing and start afresh.

Whether it’s negotiating settlements or establishing manageable payment arrangements, Robin’s dedication and her team’s expertise have been instrumental in assisting businesses to overcome tax challenges. Her efforts have been crucial in ensuring their sustainability and continued success.

Small businesses trust this tax resolution expert to provide relief from leans and get favorable judgments for their disputes. Thanks to her efforts, they can avoid going into foreclosure or bankruptcy and look forward to making a fresh start. Boyd has formulated comprehensive financial strategies for many of her clients, enabling them to achieve financial stability and credibility. They regain access to crucial funding sources, including reputable banks and private equity firms, which act as a financial lifeline for their businesses.

Rather than facing the bleak prospect of closure, these businesses now possess a well-defined and promising financial future. Robin’s expertise and dedication ensure they have the financial foundation to survive and thrive in the competitive business landscape.

For more information, visit the company’s official website at

Essential Accounting Consultants is a premier accounting firm operating from offices in Cleveland, Ohio, the Dominican Republic, and Colombia. The company’s core competencies include accounting, business management, taxation, and financial statement audits. Its service portfolio comprises tax oversight, bookkeeping, and business advisory. The company enjoys a distinctive reputation as a highly knowledgeable and reputable accounting firm, providing a complete spectrum of services to individual and corporate clients. Combining localized and online accounting practices, they deliver personalized and top-tier service, upholding the highest quality standards.

For press inquiries, contact


Black Couple, Owners Of $100M Private Mortgage Bank, Launch New Youth Investment Program Series

Meet Troy and Ebony Smith, a married couple who are the founders of G1 Investment, the only private lender with $100M in lending capacity in Charles County, Maryland, the wealthiest Black county in America. In addition to teaching their own three young girls about financial literacy, they have now launched a free initiative called Youth Investment Program Series 1 (YIPs1), where children ages 7 to 17 can unite and illustrate the power of pooling economic resources and learn the intricate details of becoming a lender and real estate investor.

As previously reported, Troy and Ebony’s firm makes them the first African-American mortgage lender to have delegated underwriting authority over a $100 million warehouse line.

Their Youth Investment Program will be the first in a collection of series where children receive a rare opportunity to explore and analyze the details involved with mortgage finance and real estate investing while experiencing the power of pooled economic resources. It will only accept the first 10,000 young people and teens to take advantage of the free registration.

Each student will receive a digital monthly case-study curriculum package based on their education level that will do a deep dive into a recent mortgage transaction or a real estate investment purchase. The curriculum includes learning Finance Terms, which encourages them to learn words beyond what the modern school system teaches; Math Problems, which encourages them to appreciate how math is used in everyday business; and History, which will include case studies and historical facts relevant to the transaction/investment.

Access to custom-curated educational content from real-life professionals is precious. However, the most profound opportunity of this program is woven into how these innovative visionaries plan to use their lending resources to create wealth for our children.

“It’s one thing to teach a child how money works and the importance of financial literacy; however, that knowledge and information in the hands of a child, while it may impact their overall outlook on how to shape opportunities for their future, is often-times left as a seed that has no soil in which to germinate and grow. We must be the soil, water, and light for their knowledge seed, and that is what we intend to do with this program,” expressed Mr. Smith.

Because regulatory restrictions prohibit children from pooling money together to lend or invest, the money they earn will be credited toward a “membership fee” for a monthly curriculum based on their age group that is a part of the program.

To register your child, please visit this link:

Business owners that would like to provide an apprenticeship/internship opportunity and be recognized as a Business Participator in this Series, please visit this link:

About the Founders
Troy and Ebony Smith are an African-American couple with three young daughters that live in Charles County, Maryland. Troy is an HBCU alumni of Winston-Salem State University. His grandmother was the CEO of a community development credit union in Springfield, Massachusetts, and was the founder of the first Black-owned youth credit union program in the country. Troy began helping her with those initiatives when he was just 7 years old.

For press inquiries and media interview requests, contact