Being one of the first people in any field is harrowing, let alone the only person. It’s not a surprise, then, there’s Kiko Davis, the only Black woman in the country to own her own bank. Rolling Out recently sat down with her to talk about how she managed to break into such a rare position.
Kiko Davis is the trustee of the Donald Davis Living Trust, the majority stockholder of First Independence Bank, the 10th largest African-American owned bank in the United States, as well as founder and president of the Don Davis Legacy Foundation, established in 2016 to perpetuate the legacy building efforts and initiatives envisioned and developed by her late husband, Donald Davis. But how does courage factor into all this? She gives her explanation:
“Courage is my superpower. I have the ability to take fear and use it as a tool to conquer adversity and challenges, no matter how insurmountable they may seem. The more substantial the obstacle, the stronger I become.” With hardship, though, comes unique benefits, and Davis says being a Black woman has informed her experience at First Independence Bank in unique ways. “The ability to genuinely connect with people and inspire a culture of synergy. It’s a God given talent that comes naturally. People tend to lend the very best of themselves when they feel leaders are passionate about them and their environment.”
Like many other successes, Davis learns from and models herself after great success stories of the past. For her, one such figure is Shirley Chisholm. “She was the first Black congresswoman and the first major party Black candidate to run for president in 1972. I want to thank her for being fearless. She faced intense racism, bigotry, misogyny and even several assassination attempts, all for the platform of equality, education and justice. One of my favorite quotes by Chisolm is, “In the end, anti-Black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing: anti-humanism,” she says.
In time, she hopes to mentor other Black women to get similar results. “I believe in the old adage: “To whom much is given, much is required.” I believe giving back is the rent you pay for occupying a seat at the table of success. Just like an apartment, if you don’t pay your rent, you can be evicted. More than being the right thing to do, it empowers you. Helping others reach their full potential adds more to your life than anyone could ever take away. Everyone needs a good mentor or teacher to guide them on their journey to greatness. Plus, it just down-right feels good,” she explains.