Black Finance: African American Financial Leaders To Follow

African American businesses are growing, thanks to many inspiring leaders! A study by the Guardian showed minority-owned businesses grew 400% in 2018. With that comes more opportunity to support these businesses and learn how the African American community is making an impact in finance. 

February is Black History Month — and we’ve compiled a list of African American financial influencers to showcase and honor some of the most impressive African Americans who are helping to change the financial outlook for minorities and the industry as a whole. 

Viola Llewellyn and Marvin Cole


Founders of Ovamba, a finance company headquartered in Maryland, Viola Llewellyn and Marvin Cole have taken their financial expertise to Africa by building local economies through investing in micro, small, and medium sized businesses. 

Seeing that there was a need for business owners to have access to low-interest funding and building connections with suppliers, Ovamba positioned themselves as a niche provider through their proprietary software. 

Ovamba has built an intricate funding platform that can be accessed entirely by mobile phone. Business owners can complete their application and explain what their business needs the most. Applicants commonly need funding to purchase real estate, grocery items, textiles, livestock, and machinery. 

Once an application is received, Ovamba can provide a financial solution within 3-5 days. Ovamba also assists in other common operational aspects such as ordering inventory, clearing goods through customs, and storage needs. 

Going into their 6th year of business, founders Viola Llewellen and Marvin Cole have facilitated 1,000’s of transactions of products for African entrepreneurs. 

Reverend Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr.

Soaries makes our list because of his long history of advocating for the Black community.

In his life, he has served in government, earned multiple degrees, including 6 doctorates, authored books, and in 2005 started the Financial Freedom Movement dfree ®

The faith-based program shows Black communities how to break free from debt and build wealth with all detailed in 12 guided steps. 

While enrolled in dfree®, members receive financial and spiritual coaching. The program has been transformational for people struggling with finances, families looking for guidance, and has even fostered growth for entire communities. 

In the past year, dfree has chosen to work with partners who share their philosophy, and we’re one of them! All dfree® members can use what they have learned in the program and translate it to their banking. Together with dfree®, MoneyLion’s banking products can help you get out of debt, raise your credit, and most importantly build wealth over time.

Rashad Bilal and Troy Millings


Want to learn about finance and your favorite celebs and sports stars? The perfect blend comes in the form of the podcast Earn Your Leisure. The podcast is truly hilarious. Much more than that, the show breaks down major deals between high-level celebrities and their businesses. They draw parallels to show how someone can apply these same tactics to real life, through the lens of an average earner. You can find Earn Your Leisure on just about every podcast streaming service.  

Rashad Bilal is a successful financial advisor at his own firm, Bilal Group out of New York City. He pushes young African Americans to make their finances a top priority. Rashad preaches creating a budget, allocating money for necessary insurance, purchasing property, and starting a retirement account sooner than later.

Rishad and Troy both have been able to gain an impressive following to their podcast keeping financial topics approachable, and real. You can gain actionable insights by listening in on them conducting interviews with black business owners and potentially even see them live as they have mentioned taking their podcast on the road in 2020.

Subscribe to their channel today for more updates. 

Ruth Chandler Cook


Ruth Chandler Cook is the founder and current CEO of HireHer —  a company that connects women, particularly women of color, to careers and training opportunities in innovative fields. 

Her 20 years of experience in human resources opened her eyes to the need for a technology based solution that provides a gateway to female inclusion in the workplace.

HireHer shows both big and small companies that inclusion increases revenue, builds stronger teams, and helps employee retention. 

With a large focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) employment, Cook is able to place talent in high paying jobs, boosting them toward financial freedom. 

HireHer works in 2 parts, the company coaches businesses of all sizes about diversity and its benefits while simultaneously training applicants to successfully interview and obtain a solid career at a company with HireHer credentials. 

Harlem Capital


We want to highlight the entire team at Harlem Capital for their efforts in venture capital investments for minority- and women-owned companies. Managing partners Jarrid Tingle and Henri Pierre-Jacues are both Harvard graduates who appeared on just about every major entrepreneurial awards stage over the past few years, including Forbes 30 under 30 and Ebony Power 100. 

The firm’s goal is to invest in 1,000 companies over the next 20 years. Some of the more notable minority owned companies in their portfolio include:

  • Shine: An app that helps you discover ways to cope with your daily stress and anxiety. 
  • Jobble: An app that helps you find flexible jobs and career opportunities. 
  • Moving Analytics: Cardiac rehabilitation from home. 
  • Beauty Bakerie: Vegan, cruelty-free, and natural cosmetics line. 

Mandi Woodruff and Tiffany Aliche


These powerhouse women host a weekly podcast about balancing life and finances. The show, Brown Ambition, covers topics like building wealth, managing debt, investing, relationships, and features interviews with entrepreneurs of businesses of all sizes. 

The two released their 200th episode on January 15th, 2020 and are on the brink of 1,000,000 downloads of their podcast. 

Mandi Woodruff is the executive editor for Lending Tree and it’s partner websites. She has worked for Business Insider and has been featured on Good Morning America, ABC news, and CBS, to name a few. Using her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, Woodruff focused on financial writing climbing the ranks to write for the best financial news outlets in the world. 

Tiffany Aliche, known as The Budgetnista has her own massive following. Her mission is to empower women through financial education via her books (The One Week Budget and Live Richer Challenge), her free financial courses, and her blog on Huffington Post. Aliche has also been featured in Forbes, TIME, and multiple news outlets. 

Find Your African-American Financial Guru

If you are looking to get educated about finance or more specifically on black finance, start by following some of these financial leaders. They have a lot to teach and motivate you! You can also opt to start working in one of the financial literacy courses offered by dfree.

One of the core messages from all of these financial leaders is community. Make this year the year you dive deep into getting on top of your finances and spreading what you have learned to the people around you and learning from them. 

Build credit, not debt!

Together, dfree® and MoneyLion can help you reach your goals — build credit, start investing, and save more. Learn about this special offer for the dfree community.