Maggie Lena Walker accomplished what no other woman had done in history: chartered a bank. In 1903, Walker became President of the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in Richmond, Virginia. The savvy businesswoman was on a mission to improve the life of African-Americans and women through financial education and empowerment. She developed an economic plan that served as the blueprint for the advancement of individuals who were underrepresented in crucial parts of society.
“First we need a savings bank. Let us put our moneys together; let us put our money out at usury among ourselves, and reap the benefit ourselves,” said Walker during the Independent Order of St. Luke Annual Convention in 1901. “Let us have a bank that will take the nickels and turn them into dollars.”
Although times have changed, the core principles of wealth-building that fueled Walker’s success are still the same. Here are a few tips from Walker’s success strategy that can help you on your journey towards financial freedom and wealth.
Commit to Saving like Walker
The more you save and invest, the more options you will have.
Walker firmly believed in the power of saving. She used her platform, The St. Luke Herald newspaper, to spread her message to as many people as possible.
According to the National Park Service, the 1915 issue of the newspaper offered simple financial tips for Blacks to move up the economic ladder. “Save a dollar more – and carry it to a Negro bank and deposit it. Save a dollar more – and you will have a prop upon which to lean when you grow weak from age,” Walker revealed in The St. Luke Herald newsletter. “Save a dollar more – because the more you save, the more you will want to save and the greater will be your ability to help yourself and someone else.”
Commit to saving as much as you can and then use the power of investing to multiply your money. Investing in the stock market is a proven way to build wealth over the long-term.
Become a Leader
Instead of focusing on all the problems that exist, it’s important to rise up and become a problem solver. Walker owned a bank but she was also editor-in-chief of a newspaper. This newspaper was a source of vital information that helped her achieve an important goal: closing the knowledge gap.
Through her work, Walker inspired others to develop the necessary leadership skills needed to impact change. “We need a Executive Committee, whose duties shall be something more than the counting of money and adding figures. We want an executive to run a factory, run a paper, run a bank, that will develop something and give some of the noble women work.
Walker’s mission to transform more people from employees to employers was a smart way to close the gaps in employment faced by Blacks during that time. Today, we see that many high net-worth individuals have built their wealth through entrepreneurship.
Be a Student at the Next Level
Leaders are readers, and they never stop learning and growing every day.
If you have a chance to visit the home of Maggie Walker, you’ll notice that the historic site is filled with books. Walker was an avid reader, feeding her mind with financial and philosophical books. Her bookshelf included books about accounting, credit, banking, and other topics that helped her to manage money in new ways. She also read books that exercised the mind and allowed her to converse on a variety of topics with people from different backgrounds.
If you want to build wealth, you have to commit to expanding your mind.
“Time and conditions change so rapidly that unless we keep on the alert, ever working, watching, improving and learning, we will be left behind in the race of progress,” says Walker at the 34th Annual Session of the Right Worthy Grand Council of Virginia chapter of the Order.
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