Overcoming the Biggest Obstacles for Minority Entrepreneurs: Capital and Financial Consulting with Citizens Bank and Twende

At the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, we are honored to celebrate Black History Month. We are also excited to plan for the future and create Black history to be celebrated year-round. Speaking of Black History, did you know that the oldest African American owned and operated bank in the U.S. was founded in Nashville? Citizens Savings Bank and Trust Company (also known as Citizens Bank), is a Certified Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and is dedicated to expanding economic opportunity to underserved communities by providing access to financial services and products to individuals and businesses. It’s not a bank for minority communities. It is a bank led by Black and minority experts that service everyone



Our vision is to make Nashville the best place to start and grow a business. We can’t do this without bringing everyone along for this journey which includes lifting up our Black and LatinX founders and leveling the playing field. We are on a mission to make Tennessee the most supportive state for Black and brown founders, and we are honored to do work that will make our state more economically robust, inclusive and strong for years to come. With this mission, we launched Twende

Twende is a year-long pre-accelerator program for Black and LatinX tech and tech-enabled business owners in Tennessee. The program offers a world-class curriculum, supportive community and individualized mentorship. 

Citizens Bank has a plan to revitalize their business with improved tech and operations, and in return, revitalize the underserved communities of Nashville by helping them build wealth. Jeff McGruder, the chief relationship officer at Citizens Bank says that their bank is, “more than a loan” and it serves as a partner for their community – “we are consultants.” They are offering a white glove service and they take a proactive approach with their clients, including providing free financial education for small business owners and first time homebuyers.

Citizens Bank has extended their efforts by becoming a program partner to support Twende. 

Both Citizens Bank and Twende have big plans for the future and are making efforts to support the growth of minority communities in Nashville. 



Entrepreneurship is one of the most important enablers to economic mobility. The NEC understands the unique circumstances founders of color face and we know that an entrepreneur’s ability to bring their vision to life varies greatly depending on background and identity. 

McGruder at Citizens Bank expresses high regard for entrepreneurs stating that, “Entrepreneurs are at the top of the food chain for the economy. Entrepreneurs create something out of nothing – that’s America.” Both Citizens Bank and Twende are a part of a greater ecosystem to support entrepreneurs in Nashville. Together, we are thinking and planning for a bigger picture and brighter future for all communities. 



Citizens Bank has a long and rich history as the oldest Black-owned and operated bank in the United States, “but if I were to break it down into one word, it would be perseverance,” says Corey Hammonds, COO of Citizens Bank. “The Great Depression, WWI, WWII, A Global Pandemic, and even a Tornado that ripped through Nashville in March of 2020, we have persevered through.” 

When George Floyd died, people went to the streets to march for justice and inspire change to improve the experience and lives of Black communities. In Nashville, there were roughly 20,000 people that hit the street. But what happens next? How can communities show their support to level the playing field for Black communities? Hammonds paints the picture, “2-3 weeks after the protests, those people are gone. Imagine if 20,000 people opened a bank account with Citizens. Imagine what the community could do.” 



Here are some highlights and examples of calls to action that everyone and every business in the Nashville area can do to support Black and LatinX entrepreneurs and communities. 

  • Banking institutions could offer free financial education for minority communities. 
  • Black and other minority entrepreneurs are encouraged to reach out to banks for mentorship and financial assistance to help bring their ideas to reality. 
  • Don’t forget to ask the opinions of those you want to help, how you can best help. 
  • For non-minority people and communities, Black and other people of color communities need more than a PR moment, they require your partnership and long-term commitment. 

Overall, Citizens Bank has a rich and great history, but it has an even more exciting future ahead. Twende is excited to have their program support. 

Learn more about Citizens Bank by visiting their website

Entrepreneurial customers of Citizens includes Yay-Yay’s, InnerG Juice & Yoga, KNGDM Group and The Secal Group, LLC among others.

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