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4 mins read

Black Owned Wealthtech Startups to Keep an Eye On

In the rapidly evolving realm of Wealthtech within the financial technology landscape, a powerful movement is underway to democratize access to wealth-building tools and opportunities.

In this article, our focus turns to three founders who are creating platforms that transcend traditional barriers and unlock new pathways to prosperity.

Amidst a sea of algorithms and digital interfaces, these founders have harnessed technology to drive change and challenge the status quo.

Plainr, DFD Partners, and PaceUP Invest, led by individuals with diverse expertise and experiences, are reshaping how individuals approach wealth management, investment, and financial education.

Black Owned Wealthtech Startups


black owned wealthtech
Lydia Ofori

Plainr is a financial services AI software company helping financial services teams accelerate and improve decision-making, automate tasks to reduce workflow frictions, and get insights from data. Plainr was founded by Lydia Ofori, a CFA and CAIA charterholder with over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry.

Plainr’s platform aggregates financial services specific unstructured and structured data to train and fine tune open sourced large language models and proprietary machine learning models. This allows financial services teams to get insights from data that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to obtain. Along with this, Plainr enables customization and proprietary data integration on their secured platform which further enables financial services companies including wealth techs to tailor usage to their specific needs with transparent insight into underlying models.

PaceUP Invest 

black owned wealthtech
Rukayyat Kolawole

PaceUP Invest, a fintech startup established in 2021 by Rukayyat Kolawole, CFA, MBA, aims to empower women and marginalized communities in the realm of finance. Leveraging Kolawole’s extensive 16-year experience in the financial industry, the company offers a comprehensive suite of services. These include educational courses, financial planning, wealth management, investment analysis, and a supportive community, all geared towards enabling clients to realize their financial aspirations.

PaceUP Invest’s core values encompass financial inclusion and empowerment. As a female-founded and led enterprise, it is dedicated to equipping its clientele with the necessary tools to take charge of their financial futures and make positive strides for themselves and their families.


black owned wealthtech
Devon Drew

DFD  is a platform designed to empower smaller asset managers, particularly those who have been historically underrepresented, to efficiently expand the distribution of their investment strategies. Founded by Devon Drew, a seasoned professional with over 16 years of experience in the asset and wealth management industry, DFD is reshaping the way asset managers connect with financial advisors and investors.

Leveraging a comprehensive approach, DFD taps into a diverse range of data sources, including publicly accessible information, insights from social media platforms, and data related to advisor searches and interactions. By harnessing the power of these data streams, DFD is able to craft precise matches between asset managers and the most compatible financial advisors.

by Tony O. Lawson

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2 mins read

Grow Credit Inc. Secures $10M to Enhance Inclusive Credit Building

In a time when many consumer-facing fintech startups are grappling with the challenging fundraising landscape, Grow Credit Inc. has defied the odds.

The innovative fintech company, founded in 2018 with a mission to promote financial inclusivity, has successfully completed a $10 million Series A funding round. This achievement, led by USAA, underscores Grow Credit Inc.’s commitment to its mission and its resilience in a competitive market.

grow credit inc

USAA’s investment not only marks a significant milestone for the startup but also strengthens the strategic partnership between the two entities. With the infusion of fresh capital, Grow Credit Inc. aims to enhance its platform, which facilitates interest-free virtual credit card payments for over 100 popular subscriptions and major cell phone plans. This development will empower more individuals, including those in the military, veterans, and their families, to build a brighter financial future.

Grow Credit Inc.’s vision is to lower the barriers of entry for millions of Americans seeking to establish and build credit. By combining a small-dollar loan with a virtual MasterCard, the company’s innovative service helps manage subscription payments while reporting loan balances to credit bureaus. This approach allows individuals to demonstrate improvements in their repayment history to major credit bureaus by leveraging their subscription accounts.

CEO Joe Bayen expressed his enthusiasm about the partnership with USAA, saying, “We are honored to have one of the financial services industry’s most mission-driven institutions, USAA, as our lead investor.” He further emphasized the importance of this partnership in an era where many brave individuals who have served the country are facing financial challenges due to expensive credit.

by Tony O. Lawson

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3 mins read

MoCaFi Raises $23.5M to Expand Financial Empowerment

MoCaFi, a fintech platform that helps traditionally underserved communities build wealth, announced yesterday that it has raised $23.5 million in Series B funding led by Commerce Ventures.

MoCaFi’s mission is to help excluded communities create wealth through better access to public, private, and social capital. The company’s Financial Services as Infrastructure™ platform works with government and philanthropic organizations to provide cash assistance, mobile banking, and financial programming to individuals and families.

“We are excited to welcome the new investors to the MoCaFi mission, and appreciate the support of our existing investors, many of whom continue to show their trust by participating in the latest round,” said Wole Coaxum, MoCaFi CEO & Founder. “This Series B round allows MoCaFi to scale quickly and validates our unique business proposition. With this capital and more importantly, support from these terrific strategic investors, we can continue to innovate and bring our products and services to more municipalities, government entities and community partners – ultimately helping more people.”

MoCaFi’s platform has already had a significant impact on underserved communities. In Birmingham, Alabama, for example, MoCaFi has helped to distribute over $20 million in emergency assistance to thousands of families. The company has also worked with the City of Los Angeles to provide financial assistance to homeless individuals and families.

“MoCaFi has been the perfect partner for the City of Birmingham,” said Kelvin Datcher, Senior Advisor to the Mayor of Birmingham. “Over the last three years, we have delivered almost $20 million in emergency assistance to thousands of families – keeping them in their homes and keeping the lights on, and we couldn’t have done it without MoCaFi. More than just a payment processor- the MoCaFi team has been a fully engaged thought partner from conception through execution. We are incredibly appreciative of their support and hope to work with them again soon!”

MoCaFi’s products include a Mastercard branded Immediate Response Card and Demand Deposit Account providing no-fee cash withdrawals, no-fee deposit options, online banking services and access to credit-building tools and financial literacy programs. MoCaFi’s Blueprint program empowers users to manage their finances, track credit scores, reduce debt, and work towards mortgage readiness. On Our Block by MoCaFi™ community-banking pop-ups bring its banking products, financial programming and resources to support Black and brown communities in building personalized pathways to wealth.

Billions of dollars in public benefits are left unspent due to various complexities and inefficiencies in disbursement methods. MoCaFi’s platform provides governments with a solution that increases adoption and delivers benefits efficiently while reducing fraud.

With this new funding, MoCaFi plans to expand its platform to reach more underserved communities and to develop new products and services that will help individuals and families build wealth.

by Tony O. Lawson

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6 mins read

Black Led Fintech, Lendistry Has Dispersed $9 Billion in Funding for Small Businesses

Lendistry is a Black led fintech and technology-enabled small business and commercial real estate lender with Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and Community Development Entity (CDE) certification.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lendistry provided Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to small businesses in all 50 states, becoming the #8 PPP lender in the country in 2021.

Everett K. Sands, the CEO of Lendistry, has over 20 years of experience in lending, including stints at both national and community banking institutions.

Through his leadership, Lendistry has reached 2nd place ranking among SBA Community Advantage lenders nationwide, received membership to the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, developed proprietary technology, and closed several strategic partnerships with over 34 community and national banks.

In this interview, Everett discusses the creation of the company, its growth through strategic partnerships, and future plans to expand its offerings to better support small businesses.

What gaps did you create Lendistry to fill? 

There are many gaps in the finance industry that historically make it harder for minority-owned businesses to access capital, and they’re still happening today. Bank consolidations have caused community banks, which are more likely to provide loans in lower amounts than a growing business is looking for, to close their doors.

Underserved communities don’t have bank locations in their neighborhoods, and even if they did, today’s business owners are too busy running their businesses during bank hours to go in for help applying. Systemic biases still cause minorities and women business owners to be seen as riskier, making them less likely to get approved even if they can find a bank to partner with. Lendistry was created to overcome all of these barriers.

We use technology to make our process accessible to anyone and to empower our team to walk applicants through the process. We set out to meet business owners where they are—online—and offer loans in lower amounts with underwriting processes that give them a fair chance, while also providing a community bank experience.

How has the business lending space evolved since you started your company? 

Credit profile (the business’s ability to repay, handle various market conditions, the repayment history of the owner and the management team) used to be the main deciding factor in lending. It’s still important, but the factors that traditional financial institutions are making are also based on operational efficiency.

Is the business run in a cost-effective way, and are its processes free of waste and redundancy? They ask those kinds of questions in the lending process now more than they used to.

Describe Lendistry’s growth over the past few years. How much have strategic partnerships played a role in that growth? 

We started in 2015, and in early 2020, we were a small team of about forty people in two offices in Southern California. Because we’re not a bank and we don’t take deposits, strategic partnerships are essential to deploying capital. At that time, Lendistry had established itself in CA as a partner for financial institutions that wanted to make sure their capital was reaching underserved communities in an impactful way.

When the pandemic started, that business model was ideal for responding to disruption. Strategic partnerships with banks and government agencies made it possible for us to step up and provide a rapid solution, especially with PPP and grant programs.

We have now funded over 600,000 small businesses and provided over $9 billion in funding. We have offices and local presences in NY, MD, TX, and a team of hundreds ready to help businesses from coast to coast.

What are your future plans for the company? 

The gaps I mentioned earlier can’t be filled just by providing small business term loans. Small businesses are evolving ahead of the financial industry, and predatory lenders are doing a good job of keeping up and making themselves look like the only option, which only holds businesses back, because after their quick funding comes unreasonable terms. So, at Lendistry our goal is to expand our offerings of lending products and be a responsible alternative in as many lending spaces as possible.

What advice do you have for other fintech founders? 

Focus on the needs of your clients and customers as the basis for your technology. This involves listening to them, paying attention to how they work, and building your tech to solve their problems.

Don’t try to convince your clients and customers that they need to adopt your technology and change their processes and structures. Lendistry is a customer-centric ecosystem, which is how we’re able to grow and build trust.

by Tony O. Lawson

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4 mins read

Can Black-Owned Banks Benefit From Fintech layoffs?

Over the past few years, Black-owned banks have had some difficulty attracting IT professionals. And a national labor shortage, a pandemic, and the “great resignation” have not made this issue any easier to resolve.

Over the past few months, a slowdown in venture capital funding into the fintech sector has led to a wave of layoffs as a result of high interest rates, rising inflation, and falling stock market valuations.

Coinbase announced in June that it was laying off 18% of its workforce. Robinhood cut 9% of its workforce in April, followed by a 23% reduction in August. PayPal’s security R&D team, which was focusing on emerging technologies, was also laid off.

The fintech sector’s funding woes could possibly be the answer to the tech talent shortage at Black-owned banks. The opportunity presents itself at a pivotal time as the banking sector accelerates its transition to modern technology across the board, from artificial intelligence software to core computing in the cloud.

Black-owned banks now have an opportunity to hire innovative candidates that possess a combination of tech, customer experience, and finance skills.

But first, banks should ensure they have the systems in place to hire as quickly as possible.

Solutions include video interviews or implementing an interview and evaluation structure that allows multiple stakeholders to speak with applicants over the course of a single day. These  “marathon interviews” can be demanding but will accelerate the hiring process.

A particular focus should be placed on hiring those who specialize in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science. Banks have lagged behind when it comes to personalizing financial services and products. Meanwhile, fintech’s have done a great job of understanding client concerns.

As more fintech talent becomes available, banks should also consider what customer experience experts with fintech experience can bring to the table.

This would be an opportunity to hire those who have a thorough understanding of millennial and Gen Z customers and know how to cater to their needs.

These experts specialize in paying attention to consumer behavior and pain points while collaborating with technology teams to create personalized solutions.

Another reason that banks have struggled to attract tech talent is that their traditional cultures do not align with that of tech workers.

Traditional financial institutions should explore key motivators which would make their culture appealing to those who have developed skills in the fintech industry.

Flexible scheduling and the option to work from home are benefits that will help lure fintech talent. Talented millennial employees have realized the benefits of working when they are most effective as individuals, as opposed to the typical 9–5.

However, although fintechs’ cool culture and excitement gave them an advantage in recruiting, in uncertain economic times, workers with families may find greater security in traditional banks.

All of that being said, recruiting is only half the battle. As the skills gap continues, banks will also need to prioritize employee retention. Investing more in emerging technology and updating legacy systems will help retain these tech savvy professionals.

Tony O. Lawson

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1 min read

Clockwork Raises $2M to Revolutionize Financial Planning For Entrepreneurs

Mike Webb is the Co-Founder & COO at Clockwork. Clockwork is a software company that uses real-time information to automatically build out financial projections and cash flow forecasts for small to medium-sized businesses.

Through their Startup and Inclusion Program, the company helps any minority-owned company making less than $1 million in revenue with discounted tools and support.

In this episode, Mike shares:

  • The problem that his business was created to solve.
  • His experience raising a $2 million investment.
  • How Clockwork is using their investment capital.
  • Advice for other founders who are trying to raise money.

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1 min read

How Abbey Wemimo Built a Billion Dollar Business in 4 years

Abbey Wemimo is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Esusu, the leading financial technology company helping individuals save money and build credit.

After receiving a $130 million investment in 2021, Esusu is now valued at $1 billion, making the four-year-old company one of only a few Black-owned unicorns in the world.

In this episode Abbey shares:

  • How his background and journey to America inspired the creation of Esusu.
  • How it feels to have built a billion-dollar business.
  • The factors that contributed to Esusu being so attractive to investors.
  • The initial struggle he and his co-founder Samir Goel experienced trying to raise money.
  • How Esusu benefits renters and property owners.
  • Growing pains and how they are being addressed.
  • Where he sees Esusu in 5 years.
  • Advice for founders who aspire to build sustainable multimillion and billion-dollar businesses.

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2 mins read

Flutterwave Triples Valuation to $3 Billion, becoming the Highest Valued African Startup

African fintech Flutterwave has raised $250 million in a Series D round that tripled the company’s valuation to over $3 billion in only twelve months.

Flutterwave has grown significantly since Shoppe Black interviewed founder and CEO,  “GB “Agboola, last year.

“We started Flutterwave due to the fragmented nature of payments in Africa— there were multiple ways of making and receiving payments within countries but cross-border payments remained a hassle. This made it difficult for individuals like myself or businesses to make or receive international payments in Africa”, said Agboola.

Today, the company supports international payments for over 34 countries and processes payments across 150 currencies. In September 2021, the number of businesses using Flutterwave was 300,000. Now, 900,000 companies use Flutterwave to receive money from their customers.

Flutterwave Founder and CEO, Olugbenga “GB “Agboola

B Capital Group led the $250 million round, with participation from Alta Park Capital LP, Whale Rock Capital and Lux Capital. Several existing investors who participated in previous rounds also followed this round, including Glynn Capital, Avenir Growth, Tiger Global, Green Visor Capital and Salesforce Ventures.

The company will use the funds to expand through mergers and acquisitions in Africa and the Middle East in the coming months.

Flutterwave currently facilitates cross-border transactions in multiple currencies for Uber, Netflix, and Microsoft on their expansion across Africa.  And, have started talking to many other US-based merchants that have growth ambitions across the continent.

Tony O. Lawson

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2 mins read

Black Owned Credit Building Platform, Esusu Raises $130 Million, now valued at $1 Billion

In the U.S., credit is your lifeline to the financial system. To date, 45 million Americans lack credit scores, and millions more are marginalized due to their background, race, and zip code.

Esusu is a rent reporting platform that captures rental payment data and reports it to credit bureaus to boost users’ credit scores.

Founded in 2018 by Abbey Wemimo and Samir Goel, Esusu was built to include everyone on the journey from financial identity and stability toward financial wellness that leads to wealth building.

Over the past year, Esusu has experienced monumental growth spurred by industry adoption, new rent reporting regulations, and partnerships with the country’s largest property owners and operators.

Esusu works with over 30% of the largest asset managers and property managers in the nation and helps report rent payments for more than two million rental units across all 50 states in the U.S., up from 1 million units last year.

Today, the 4-year-old company announced that it has raised $130 million in a Series B fundraising round. This investment gives Esusu a valuation of $1 billion, making it one of the very few Black-owned unicorns in the U.S. and globally.

“We started Esusu with the belief that where you come from, the color of your skin, and your financial identity should not determine where you end up in life,” said Wemimo in a statement.

The round was led by Softbank with participation from Jones Feliciano Family Office, Lauder Zinterhofer Family Office, Schusterman Foundation, SoftBank Opportunity Fund, Related Companies, and Wilshire Lane Capital.

Esusu plans to use the funding to triple its employees, “turbocharge growth through product innovation, and build the most comprehensive financial health platform in the market.”

Tony O. Lawson

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5 mins read

This Black Owned FinTech is on a Mission to Improve Your Financial Health

OurBanc is a Black owned fintech that aims to dismantle the systemic barriers that America’s financial system has traditionally embraced with banking,

The company is built with the fundamental purpose of creating a fair and equitable relationship between individuals and financial services that enables everyone to view, manage, move, and grow their money to improve their financial health and end the perpetual deterioration of wealth in underserved communities.

We caught up with OurBanc CEO and founder, David Dwumah to find out more.

Black Owned Banking App
OurBanc CEO and founder, David Dwumah

What experiences inspired you to start OurBanc?  

We believe that the promise of fair and accessible services heralded by technology is yet to be fulfilled, especially for Black and brown communities. 

Growing up in Ghana, I was fascinated by Susu. In this non-formal community-based savings practice, family and friends borrow and lend money to each other. Today, I am amazed by how cellphone-based mobile money efficiently and exponentially connects the “unbanked” and “underbanked” with banking services, thus radically transforming their lives. 

Founding OurBanc is a culmination of my lifelong observation and belief in the power of people helping people, the use of the right technology to better the lives of others, and my firsthand experiences as an immigrant and black consumer. 

Black Owned Banking App   

In what ways do you feel your company can help users improve their financial health?    

We believe that society is at an inflection point. The social justice and pandemic events of 2020 have shown that our economic and social environments are ready for meaningful change. We believe ESG focused strategies will drive better outcomes for investors and the communities we serve.

The technology needed to create positive solutions is now more affordable and widely available. 

We believe open banking, equitable and widespread faster payments will be the foundation of fairness and inclusion that better serves the unbanked and under-banked communities. A fitting example of how we plan to use open banking is to provide short-term loans.

We plan to offer fairer short-term loans without hidden fees such as “tips” and payment terms based on a member’s ability to repay the loan and not limited to just credit scores.  

  Black Owned Banking App

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

In 5 years, we expect to share the results of what we have done to help provide minority-owned companies and underrepresented founders access to patient and mission-aligned capital. I recently became a member of the Council for Inclusive Capitalism. We commit to doing our part to significantly ease minority-owned companies’ access to patient and mission-aligned capital. 

According to FDIC surveys, sixty million Americans spend $3,000 a year on payday loans, check cashing, ATM fees, and more. That is not right. Our goal is to reduce this by at least $1000 over the next five years for the members of OurBanc. We are confident that we can inspire FinTech for good and help accelerate meaningful change within the industry. 

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?  

Find your purpose, nurture the right relationships, and develop the grit to see you through the challenging times!  

How can we support you today?  

We believe in the equality of opportunity for all. That is why we are building a community-driven Fintech where everyday people can be valued customers and potential owners and co-creators of our solutions. By Crowdfunding, we believe we are doing our part in the democratizing of the early-stage investment process.

We invite the Shoppe Black community, friends, and allies to be part of this special moment by visiting our pitch page here   


Tony O. Lawson

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