Unity National Bank, originally founded in 1963 and later chartered in 1985, is the only African-American owned banking institution in Texas. In February 1989, through a series of transactions and diligent efforts, it was acquired from Bay Bancshares by local minority leaders. Dr. Kase Lawal, Chairman & CEO of Erin Energy, serves as Chairman of the Board. Other current Board members are Carol Alvarado, Texas State Representative; Kamoru Lawal, President of CAMAC International; Mustafa Tameez, Founder of Outreach Strategists; Sharon E. Murphy, Partner; McConnell Jones Lanier & Murphy LLP; Rodney Ellis, Harris County Commissioner, Precinct One; Moez Mangalji, Westmont Hospitality Group; and Richard Leader, CFA President of First Houston Capital.
Our lending program has always been geared toward helping to rebuild our community and, therefore, we continue to stress mortgage loans (through a third party partnership) to those individuals who express an interest in financing for their primary residence. Our main focus is commercial loans but we continue to provide loans for retail customers. Our business lending philosophies encourage the use of various agencies to increase and enhance the possibilities of loan approval. For this purpose we have partnered with Shell Community Financing Corp., Houston Minority Business Council, Houston Small Business Development Corp., Business Consortium Fund, Waterstone, a SBA Loan Service Provider, and others. We continue to make SBA-guaranteed loans as well as other conventional loans to small businesses. Because of our increased activity in this area, the U.S. Small Business Administration named Unity a Certified Lender.
In addition to our lending efforts, Unity strives to make a difference in our community by financially supporting and focusing on activities with such agencies as the YMCA, YWCA, NAACP, United Negro College Fund, SHAPE Community Center, Boy Scouts of America, Third Ward Redevelopment Council, and many others. We try to work closely with various civic organizations in our community as we strive to promote harmony and other benefits to all of our neighbors. Our employees have given generously to the United Way and have worked diligently on food drives, Third Ward clean-ups, and other worthwhile programs such as tutoring students at elementary schools, while officers regularly participate in career days and other educational activities.
Alliances are key to the success of minority banks. Our bank has been greatly strengthened by alliances with entities such as the National Bankers Association (NBA), Texas Bankers Association (TBA), The Independent BankersBank (TIB), Shell Oil Company, Amegy Bank, Cadence Bank and Wells Fargo Bank, just to name a few. Unity will continue to seek out new alliances with other entities whose desire is to better serve minority communities.
Overall, our organization can be characterized as an independent, commercial and retail, community bank providing quality customer service while presenting an image of professionalism and excellence which serves as a role model to other businesses in the African-American community. In addition to our inner-city headquarters located in the heart of Third Ward Houston, we opened our first branch in Missouri City, Texas, Fort Bend County, in 1998. Our vision at Unity National Bank is to be the financial institution that partners with Houston’s under-served communities to create opportunities. We intend to continue building a banking organization with multiple branch locations in the Greater Houston Metroplex to provide convenient and professional service to all of our customers.
The bank is opening a branch in Atlanta, GA in the first Quarter of 2018.