Kathy Martin is an African American entrepreneur and real estate tycoon that has served the Atlanta community for the past 20 years, operating as an investor. Martin is CEO of Real Estate Solutions, LLC, and has multiple real estate companies that specialize in different aspects of the real estate industry. “I have several businesses…I have a property management company, I have a company that just buys the houses, and I have a company that rehabs the houses,” explains Martin. Currently, Martin’s workforce of employees is greater than 90% minority.
According to Timothy Bates’ article, The Urban Development Potential of Black-Owned Businesses, many African American-owned firms have difficulty gaining access to financial capital when trying to start or maintain their business. Bates list three reasons as to why Black-owned businesses have difficulty:
1) There is a greater chance that Black-owned businesses will have their bank loans denied, even if they’re equally qualified with White applicants.
2) If African American business owners are approved for a business loan, they usually receive a smaller amount of funds compared to non-minority business owners.
3) Black businesses tend to rely on credit cards in order to start and form their businesses.
Martin is the exception to these statistics. She is one of the few women in real estate that operates as an investor, using her own funds to lend, purchase and refurbish properties. “I noticed that there wasn’t really any African American women being real investors, where they actually had their own money to go into the community, rehabbing them and making a difference in African American lives,” says Martin. She explains how she witnessed individuals conduct biased real estate business in the Black communities, while taking advantage of African Americans and their communities, which led Martin to go into these Black communities to make a difference.
Martin discusses the importance of supporting African American communities and businesses. She explains that her number one consumer is the African American community and that she puts the money back into the community. She suggests three things that the Black community has to have in order to be successful: integrity, self-esteem, and customer service. “I think there are three issues, the first one is definitely integrity in our own community. The other one is self-esteem, we always want to fit-in, I don’t know why, we have so much going for us,” says Martin, “and we lost customer service. If you think about those three things, that’s the reason why you have picked someone over somebody else, to buy something or to do business with.”
Martin discusses her thoughts on African Americans as the number one consumers, spending a $1 trillion dollars a year on goods and services.