On Feb 1, 2016, Jamerus Payton and Torrence Reed, the founders and owners of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Wall Street, spoke about the importance of community investments at the “From Me 2 We” event, Wednesday, Feb. 1. in the University Center. According to their website, HBCU Wall Street is a digital media company that supports black entrepreneurs and their communities with financial advice.
The event focused on ways African Americans can invest in their communities through banking and their consumer habits, as well as advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.
“A lot of black banks are community entities,” Reed said. “And supporting them is supporting your community financially.”
A difficult aspect of building community support for local businesses is changing the way people look at the role of businesses in their community. Payton and Reed said that small businesses can not always offer the same advantages as larger chains, which can make them less convenient. However, making the effort to shop at locally owned stores means more money stays in community.
“The main thing we have to do is change your mindset about how supporting certain businesses can have positive effects on you and your community,” Payton said.
This is the work that Payton said has become a focus of HBCU. Both him and Reed noticed that having a good business will not guarantee success if it is not marketed properly.
“We’re social entrepreneurs,” Payton said.
HBCU Wall Street offers advice for those interested in investing or starting their own business, as well as advice for personal financial management.
Reed said that it can be difficult for college students to understand the importance of financial management, especially when they are preparing to graduate.
“You know when I was in college people would always be telling me it’s hard out here in the real world and you got to start practicing now with being responsible,” Reed said. “But I never really paid attention to all that.”
Payton and Reed both started working regular jobs out of college, but they said their passion was starting their own business.
They have both been involved in startup companies over the last five years that have not been able to last. However, they said it is important not to view those experiences in a negative way.
“When you’re an entrepreneur you have to think ‘what am I doing next?’” Reed said. “Every time you try something that doesn’t work out you learn new skills that can help you out the next time around.”
The event was sponsored by the UW-Whitewater Fiscal and Economic Research Center.
“All in all, this was an amazing experience on an amazing university doing amazing work,” states HBCU Wall Street Co-Founder Torrence Reed.