Monthly Archives: April 2016

The HBCU Money™ Weekly Market Watch


Our Money Matters /\ April 29, 2016

A weekly snapshot of African American owned public companies and HBCU Money™ tracked African stock exchanges.

NAME TICKER PRICE (GAIN/LOSS %)

African American Publicly Traded Companies

Citizens Bancshares Georgia (CZBS) $6.46 (1.37% DN)

M&F Bancorp (MFBP) $3.25 (0.00% UNCH)

Radio One (ROIA) $2.32 (12.62% UP)

African ETFs

Global X MSCI Nigeria (NGE) $6.37 (2.74% UP)

Market Vectors Africa (AFK) $21.23 (3.46% UP)

African Stock Exchanges

Bourse Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres (BRVM)  318.68 (0.33% UP)

Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE)  10 726.79 (4.89% UP)

Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE)  1 828.78 (8.33% DN)*

Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE)  146.93 (N/A)

Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) 52 957.32 (0.50% DN)

International Stock Exchanges

New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) 10 436.91 (0.42% DN)

London Stock Exchange (LSE)  3 421.70 (1.29% DN)

Tokyo Stock Exchange (TOPIX)  1 340.55 (3.16% DN)

Commodities

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The HBCUpreneur Corner™ – Texas Southern and Prairie View A&M University’s Johari Mills & FlowerChild’s Studio Salon


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NameJohari Mills

Alma Mater: I attended Texas Southern University for my undergraduate degree and graduate school at Prairie View. I like to claim both to piss people off, but I’m a Tiger at heart.

Business Name & Description: FlowerChild’s Studio Salon. Houston’s premier & most unique boutique coiffure salon. Flowerchild’s stylists are skilled to set the trends. It is a privatized haven for clients to feel secure, relaxed & confidently rejuvenated to conquer the world with stress free hair.

What year did you found your company? I’ve been a stylist for eighteen years and a salon owner for five years. I opened FlowerChild’s Studio Salon in 2011.

What has been the most exciting and/or fearful moment during your HBCUpreneur career? The day I decided to quit my career as an educator, along with teacher benefits and a consistent paycheck, to invest all my money and time into building and opening a salon was the scariest moment ever. I wanted to see if that movie Field of Dreams was correct: “If you build it, they will come.” So I built it – and they came. I’m grateful.

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What made you want to start your own company? Two reasons. Honestly, I was juggling a lot at the time. I just had a baby, teaching and doing hair at a salon after I left the schoolhouse. I wanted time to spend with my baby boy and I wanted to call the shots. The moment finally came where I felt I had to choose, so I figured I had to give something up and since giving up being a mother would make me a dead beat (joking-calm down), I gave up teaching. Giving up being a stylist was never an option. The other reason was because I knew there was something bigger in store for me. My mother was a teacher and it’s an honorable profession, but it wasn’t enough for me. I was raised under a spiritual system that helps practitioners follow their destiny and through divinations as a child I was told I was to be a boss and carry on the legacy of many entrepreneurs in my ancestral lineage.

Who was the most influential person/people for you during your time in college? I will narrow it down to one professor I had. Her name was Professor Oates. Forgive me because I think she became Dr. Oates, but this was a lady who saw who I was and saw what I was doing to hide who I was from others. She dropped a book down in my face one day called the Isis Papers by Francis Cress Welsing and told  me to write her a paper on it. By pen and paper, my upbringing was unleashed. I knew I was different but she made that okay for me and as she would put it, “They just gonna have to understand.”

How do you handle complex problems? I have not mastered this at all. As I mature though I notice the first thing I do is consult a close friend or my YeYe (mom) to make sure I’m not turning something simple into something complex. Often times people do that without noticing just how simple it could all be. Once deemed complex, I become introverted. I like to say I try to find resolve immediately by thought first and then action, but I’m not perfect. I like to fix things as soon as the problem arises because my grandmother made it apparent that you don’t put things off for tomorrow because tomorrow has its own set of tasks. However, depending on the matter I feel it best to consult spirit for a solution. After all, I am only a spiritual being in a physical vessel. This is key to me in all things and it proves to be beneficial to remember that when problems arise.

What is something you wish you had known prior to starting your company? How strong and capable I am. Every loss cannot be prevented. Eventually we have to experience downfall in order to know what it feels like on the upside. I know I cannot prepare for everything – there just isn’t enough preparation in the world for what is predetermined to happen. That being said, I wish I would have known that while I was worrying, crying, and sweating, that this too shall pass and I’ll land on both feet soon. I wish I had known that going in because then I believe I would have had tougher skin. Then again, those experiences, that blood, sweat and tears are what gave me a thick coat – a catch 22.

Operation Blossom, which your site talks about as a day for underprivileged young girls to experience pampering and luxury they might not otherwise have an opportunity too, seems especially near and dear to your heart. What prompted this project? How do you see it evolving in the coming years? My YeYe taught us that giving is the ultimate way to receive. I like to think I have a talent, so I plan on using my talent if nothing else to be of service to others. I really haven’t thought of where it’s going as much as I want to make sure it continues to keep going. For the foreseeable future, I just want to focus on being consistent and Que Sera, Sera (whatever will be will be).

The African-American hair care industry, especially as it relates to women, has become something of a battleground over the past few decades with African-American ownership within the industry on what has been a precipitous decline. The move toward more natural hair seems to have potentially stemmed that tide. Is there an ownership renaissance happening in African-American hair care and can the natural hair care movement take credit for it? No, because there really hasn’t been an increase in ownership. However, there has been an increase in nonprofessionals profiting off of the movement. Like anything else that’s hot and popular everyone saw a trend and saw dollar signs. Now you have more people making products, starting blogs, posting Youtube videos that have never even been active in the industry. But because the focus is on natural hair now – everyone is trying to get a piece of the pie cause they figure, “Well my hair is curly – I guess I have some experience enough to talk about it.”

Very rarely do we see African-American owned hair salons grow into multi-city chains, but with natural hair care appearing to be a trend on a continued rise across the country it seems as if the opportunity is there. Do you believe this national scale could happen or are African-American salons not interested in this type of size? I actually have never met a salon owner that says they want a chain of salons. You know why? It’s work! And I don’t mean just work. I mean work work. It’s enough to try to juggle your clients, your stylists, your stylists clients, and the upkeep of one building. To add multiple locations to that dynamic? Whew! I find the reason it’s difficult is because it’s hard to find people (managers and stylists) who are like-minded in terms of how you see the businesses’ vision and as honest as you. You get the feeling that if you want it done correctly, then you have to do it yourself and that’s challenging. Luckily, after years I have found a professional group of ladies who respect this profession just as much as I do. So most salon owners I know are proud to say they are keeping one salon a float. That’s a huge accomplishment in these times.

Outside of the obvious (money) is there anything else you believe is holding back more African-American ownership or growth in natural hair care industry? The industry is no longer professional and those who get into the industry don’t treat this industry as a serious career. Hairstylist use to be looked up to and stylist conducted business like they were CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. This generation can’t even show up to work on time, are unorganized and don’t feel like they have to work hard, which is why there is not a growth in ownership. However, “Keke” can hook you up in her kitchen sometime on Saturday, when she puts her kids to bed or she will post a how to video on Youtube for you to do it yourself.

What do you believe HBCUs can do to spur more innovation and entrepreneurship while their students are in school either as undergraduate or graduate students? I always believed schools are too caught up on books. It’s been proven that black children learn best when they can move around, touch and experience things. That’s why our boys struggle with being still in classrooms, but that’s a whole other story too. I believe every major needs a requirement to go out into the field and witness the work under an owners tutelage. The worst thing they could have done (but by design) was take learning a skill out of high schools. Classes like sewing, cooking, auto shop, and wood shop took away the chance for kids to explore and discover what they are good at. If you throw an aspiring journalist into an office from the start, they may find out it’s not for them.

How do you deal with rejection? I take it and move on. Lesson learned.

When you have down time, how do you like to spend it? What is down time? Where does that exist? Just kidding. I try to travel, I try to make efforts to dance, and I have a non-profit called JLS Events that promotes African dance and drum in Houston and surrounding areas. Lastly, I love to catch up with friends to re-energize my spirit.

What was your most memorable HBCU memory? First thing that comes to mind, non- academically, is pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. And taking over the line after mine.

In leaving is there any advice you have for budding HBCUpreneurs? Be true to yourself and be willing to walk your own path even when others may not understand.

XULA FCU Growing, Virginia State University FCU In Crisis, And 2016 HBCU-Based Credit Unions Overall – Stagnant


Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. – Martin Luther

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2016’s HBCU-based credit unions are stuck in neutral. Eleven HBCU-based credit unions assets are unchanged from 2015 and still stand at $87 million. Membership saw a decline from just over 17 000 in 2015 to 16 546 in 2016. For comparison, Navy Federal Credit Union, America’s largest credit union has $73.3 billion in assets and 5.9 million members.

  1. Southern Teachers & Parents (LA) – $28.3 million ($28 million)
  2. Florida A&M University (FL) – $20.1 million ($19.6 million)
  3. Howard University Employees (DC) – $10.8 million ($11.3 million)
  4. Virginia State University (VA) – $8.6 million ($9.6 million)
  5. Prairie View (TX) – $4.8 million ($4.8 million)
  6. Savastate Teachers (GA) – $3.7 million ($3.6 million)
  7. Councill (AL) – $3.4 million ($3.4 million)
  8. Xavier University (LA) – $2.6 million ($2.4 million)
  9. Arkansas A&M College (AR) – $2.4 million ($2.3 million)
  10. Tennessee State University (TN) – $1.6 million ($1.4 million)
  11. Shaw University (NC) – $0.6 million ($0.5 million)

HBCU-based credit unions while having almost $90 million in assets are too top heavy as a collective. The top four HBCU-based credit unions have almost 80 percent of the group’s combined assets. Unfortunately, the fourth member of the group, Virginia State University Federal Credit Union, is dragging down the collective. Over the past two years VSU FCU has seen its assets decline almost 20 percent. VSU FCU is in the process of a transition in leadership after the long-term CEO Peggy Custis stepped down after a multi-decade run. In her place, Katrina Peerman, is serving as interim CEO while the board looks to make a long-term decision. That long-term decision, whether it remains Ms. Peerman or an outside choice could have a rippling effect that impacts the group as a whole. Can HBCU-based credit unions come into the 21st century? It remains to be seen whether they possess the leadership or aggressive vision required to facilitate

HBCU Money’s 2015 review and analysis of HBCU-based credit unions remain unchanged:

Unfortunately, there also seems to be no urgency by these credit unions to do the things necessary to increase their membership and assets. Students entering into HBCUs today may be more financially illiterate than a generation ago, but they have more complex financial needs thanks in large part to student loans playing such a large role into today’s higher education finance. Not to mention the reduced role that social security will play in their long-term retirement planning. An issue that should be prompting more HBCU-based credit unions to find ways to help students reduce student loan debt and start retirement planning while in college. A hard task to give this group given the limited financial products and services they offer leave HBCU-based credit unions minute opportunity to serve the needs of students, faculty, campus organizations, or even the HBCUs themselves. These limited products and services are largely an issue of lacking scale. Instead of a credit union with at least $87 million in assets, the median is $3.6 million amongst eleven with declining assets and membership. Instead of students, faculty, and institutions who travel more today than ever to conferences, tournaments, etc. being able to access their money at one of the eleven branches or through mobile app banking along the way, they are limited to just one insular branch with technology that at best reminds you of AOL dial-up. Holding onto students is even more difficult with most returning to their hometowns or nearest major city upon graduation and only returning to the campus at most once a year for homecoming. Incentive to keep banking beyond graduation? None.

Lauryn Hill has a wonderful song called the Ex-Factor that I think often describes African America institutional strategic behavior and with HBCU-based credit unions it seems no different. “It could all be so simple, but you’d rather make it hard. Loving you is like a battle and we both end up with scars.” I still believe with the right vision, an HBCU credit union could rival the Navy Federal Credit Union and give African America a place of financial safety instead of the scars we constantly end up with from predatory financial services that come into communities because we are left with such meager choices from our own financial institutions. It really all could be so simple, but more than likely we will continue to make it hard.

HBCU Money’s 2016 African American Owned Credit Union Directory


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All credit unions are listed by state and in alphabetical order. In order to be listed in our directory the credit union must have an African American designation. Click on the state to view the full list available. If the credit union has a website you can click on the name and go directly to their website.

There are 318 African American designated credit unions with assets totaling approximately $5.8 billion in assets or approximately 0.51 percent of African America’s $1.1 trillion in buying power. African American credit unions have a total of 863 670 members.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

  • African American credit unions comprise 49.6 percent of Minority Serving credit unions and 5.2 percent of all US credit unions
  • The total assets for all US minority credit unions is $36.4 billion, with AACUs controlling 16.2 percent of those assets. Total combined assets for all US credit unions are $1.2 trillion, with AACUs controlling 0.48 percent of total American credit union assets.
  • AACUs average assets: $18.4 million ($17.9 million)
  • AACUs average number of members 2 725 (2 688)
  • AACUs median assets: $1.4 million ($1.4 million)
  • AACUs median members: 505 (491)
  • For comparison, Asian American credit unions have approximately 362 000 members and $4.6 billion in assets. Average and median assets of $83.1 million and $30.0 million, respectively.

African American Owned Credit Unions by State:

Alabama

Arkansas

California

Connecticut

District of Columbia

Delaware

Florida

Georgia

Illinois

Indiana

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Mississippi

New Jersey

New York

North Carolina

Ohio

Pennsylvania

South Carolina

Tennessee

Texas

Virginia

Virgin Islands

Washington

West Virginia

Wisconsin

 

 

Merge Or Die: Radio One & Johnson Publishing Company


“Pride is a form of selfishness.” – David Lawrence

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There are two cars traveling across the United States of America. Starting off they they both think they have enough gas to go all the way, but about one-fourth of the way into the trip they realize they only have enough to make it three-fourths of the way there. The two cars had become acquaintances on this journey often seeing each other at the same rest stops and gas stations. From time to time they even exchange small talk and have a distant fondness for each other knowing they were on the same journey. As they finally approached the crossroad of a decision, just how would they make their decision? Well, if the goal is being their guide and not their ego, they decide to pool resources. They “merge” the two vehicles resources into one. In other words, they decide which car is in the best shape, siphon the gas from the other, take spare parts, and ultimately continue on their way. But someone must now give up their control to further this trip and that is ultimately where many African American businesses fail to ever reach the “destination” of becoming or remaining a viable and growing business.

In 2015, Johnson Publishing Company, African America’s largest owned publishing company, decided it needed raise more cash and was going to set about doing so under the direction of CEO Desiree Rogers’ leadership by selling 70 million iconic African American photos it has culminated since its founding for a price tag of $40 million. An amount roughly equal to almost half of the company’s current annual revenues. This follows on the heels of four years earlier the company giving up a 40 percent stake in the company for a cash infusion from J.P. Morgan Chase’s Special Investments Group also under the leadership of Ms. Rogers. The J.P. Morgan infusion clearly has not helped the company as traditional media companies are seeing print go the way of the dinosaur and JPC is no exception. Ebony Magazine, JPC’s flagship brand, saw ad revenue plummet 24 percent in 2014 versus Time’s Essence Magazine, which trails Ebony in average circulation, only saw its ad revenue fall 7.5 percent over the same period. Essence is benefitting by being a part of the larger Time umbrella that allows advertisers to buy spots in multiple publications and platforms offered by Time Inc. and its 90 diverse brands within the publishing juggernaut. Johnson Publishing Company has one. It had two, but Ms. Rogers also early on in her tenure chose to discontinue the historically popular JET Magazine. Now, the company consist of Ebony Magazine and Fashion Fair Cosmetics, a cosmetics company that JPC founded during the 1970s. Oddly, Ms. Rogers decided that keeping a cosmetics company as opposed to JET, even though reports say her strategy is to shore up Johnson Publishing’s core business.

And in the other corner, over the past few years there has also been a story of tumultuous change in nearby Silver Spring, Maryland at Radio One, Inc. The company founded by Cathy Hughes in 1980 and currently run by her son Alfred Liggins, III. One of only three African American owned publicly traded companies has seen its share price drop over 70 percent in the past couple of years. Rumors have it that prior to selling BET to Viacom, founder Bob Johnson, actually approached Ms. Hughes and Co. about a merger. How serious that conversation was is unknown, but what we do know is that it did not happen. Radio One’s leadership ultimately favoring a partnership with Comcast to launch TV One. It would ultimately buyout Comcast in the early part of 2015 after that ten year partnership and have a 99.6 percent controlling interest in the television station. As of its December 2014 10-K filing, the company owned 56 broadcast stations in 16 urban markets which is the core of the company’s business. It also owns some digital properties such as Global Grind, BlackPlanet, and a number of other marginal digital assets. There has been some belief that Radio One could be on the verge of a comeback after converting one of its radio stations from a news station to an 80s and 90s based hip-hop station in Houston. The station itself has received rave reviews from critics and listeners, but what it has seemingly failed to do is  land some of the industry’s blue chip advertisement accounts.

What do these two companies look like merged? Well, first they would have a combined $1.3 billion enterprise value and $540 million in annual revenues. There has not been an African American owned company to generate $1 billion in revenue annually since Virginia State University’s alum Reginald Lewis created TLC Beatrice in the late 80s. This would put the merged company well over half the way there. It would also expand both companies demographic reach. Radio One’s demographics are primarily 18-40, while JPC’s are 40 and up. Radio One’s younger demographic could be exactly is needed to pick up a new generation of readers for Ebony Magazine and may even allow for a relaunch of JET. JPC’s demographic, arguably a more mature, economically stable, and better educated demographic could be what Radio One needs to attract more well heeled advertisement accounts. It would also save the drastic mistake Johnson Publishing Company is making currently with the sale of its photograph collection which could be a source of revenue for the newly merged company across the plethora of digital platforms that Radio One has at its disposal.

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It is often baffling that African American businesses continue to get bailouts from companies like J.P. Morgan or Morgan Stanley, but will not consider a merger because everyone continues to want to be the general of a small (perhaps dying) enterprise instead of the soldier of a larger thriving enterprise. We saw it with Carver Bank in New York, once an African American owned bank, but instead of merging with One United in Boston found itself needing to be bailed out after the Great Recession from Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley. Did it approach One United? No, in a “show” of sorts the bank’s CEO, Deborah Wright, tried to assure many of banks constituency that the institution had not lost its way. Radio One and Johnson Publishing Company are looking down the same road. Two companies that desperately need each other and African America desperately needing a sign that our businesses understand the bigger picture beyond egos. Otherwise, both may become historical footnotes well before their time was intended leaving a crater in the African American private sector that does not and did not need to be there. These two companies are heading to the same destination, but will run out of gas well before either reaches it if both are not willing to share the ride there.