When D’Juan Hopewell dropped out of his PhD program at the start of the Stock Market crash in 2008, he never imagined he would be unemployed for 3 years. After getting into politics and working on campaigns, Hopewell was doing very well for himself but discovered he was unhappy with the work as it was not benefitting Black people. His road to entrepreneurship was rough and included several failed businesses. Eventually consultant work as a content editor and understanding the importance of customer service led to him founding BLK Insurance.
BLK Insurance does the important work of connecting the Black community to Black insurance agencies to protect the things that matter most. Whether you need insurance for your life, business, vehicle or home, the platform allows you to find trusted agents that knows our community best and have extensive experience.
We caught up with Hopewell to learn more about his inspiration behind the business, its benefits and importance, and more.
What was the inspiration behind BLK Insurance?
My grandfather (not biological) owned an insurance company in Atlanta. Through talking to him when I was younger, I discovered just how big and powerful the insurance industry was. I knew, at that time, that I wanted to be a part of it. I just didn’t know how.
However, I knew how to create content and how to market to Black people. So, that all came together to aid in the formation of BLK Insurance. What also pushed it all together for me is that I’m a student of history. Malcolm X once said, “Of all of our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research.” When I really got into the history of insurance and Black people, it blew my mind.
Dr. Robert Weems is a professor at Wichita State University, and his research on Black insurance companies points out that as Black insurance companies have declined, so have our neighborhoods. A little-known fact is that the largest Black-owned businesses in history have been insurance companies. They were some of the only companies to really reach industry scale. There are some exceptions like publishing companies, but even Johnson Publishing came out of an insurance company. Insurance companies were really the economic engines of Black communities. But as they declined, so did we. After researching that dynamic history, I said we need to bring back the Black insurance sector, and BLK Insurance is my way of doing that.
Explain how BLK Insurance works for consumers.
Essentially, what we do is connect consumers with Black-owned insurance agencies for whatever insurance needs one may have, whether it be commercial trucking insurance, auto insurance, life, etc. We always talk about buying and banking Black, but why wouldn’t we insure Black? We talk about recycling our money to rebuild our community and our dollars, but we’re ignoring the biggest most powerful driver of wealth there is. And that’s the insurance sector. So, we're saying here's an answer to that – a very simple answer, come to us. Let us connect you with premier agencies, the best of the best Black-owned agencies that can service you. They know you and will understand you as the customer while also having the expertise. They are also going to care about you and your family in a way that other people just don't.
That’s amazing. Now I do see that your tagline is Protect Black Wealth. How exactly are you doing that, and why is that so important to for you personally?
We talk about building generational wealth, but the reality is we aren’t necessarily doing the things to facilitate that. So many on social media present different paths to generational wealth, but the guaranteed path to actually doing so is through life insurance. It’s that basic thing. So, let’s deal with the basics of building wealth and protecting it. The reality is that insurance products are designed to protect. Black-owned businesses are carrying way too much risk, and we need to mitigate that risk. We’re losing Black wealth in ways that just do not make sense, and we don’t have to.
There were a lot of entrepreneurs who were wiped out by the pandemic because they didn’t have the proper insurance to make it through that period of time. So, if we’re going to protect Black wealth, we have to do that by protecting our assets, protecting our businesses, and protecting our own lives.
Protecting Black wealth starts with insurance. This industry has been here forever and will continue to be here.
After BLK Insurance connects a customer to an agency, what’s your team’s involvement after that, if any?
After we connect them, we leave it to the agencies to deal with the specifics of the insurance because we are not licensed to talk about nor sell insurance. We do, however, keep up with the customer and send out communications to learn about their experience. We also send out things to market different products for their awareness. And sometimes we just randomly do quality assurance. We want to make sure that we are maintaining a certain standard. You should get the best of the best experience, and we want to make sure that happens.
What’s one of the best testimonials you have received?
There are a few actually, but one in particular focuses around an agent in North Carolina who is a real rock star. We had promoted that agency’s services on another site as well. So, the customer reached out to our team and the other site’s team to say she found the North Caroline agent through that promotion. They mentioned the type of service they received and how they really took the time to actually talk to the customer to ensure everything was understood. They mentioned how there are so many bots that we must deal with in today’s environment, but they were happy to actually talk to a person – a person interested in hearing about their family, their job, and just them overall. Anyone can tell you they had a good experience. But when someone tells you they were valued and seen as a customer and not just as a number, those are the type of testimonials that really stick out to me.
We also get feedback from those who say they simply didn’t know there are Black-owned insurance agencies. Some people really feel intimidated talking to others about these matters, but there’s a certain comfort level knowing that you can talk to your own. They have the competency, and customers can just talk to them straight and be real.
What are your top reasons why our readers should check out BLK Insurance?
For one, we talk about the racial wealth gap. The reality is we can close the wealth gap in a single generation if we all just make the decision to have the appropriate coverage, particularly for life insurance. If every Black family right now made it a priority to say we’re going to leave our kids with a half a million dollars tax free, we can tackle this in a single generation. We can’t keep making it so every generation has to start all the way over.
Secondly, you’re not just investing in a policy. You’re really investing in yourself. Every year, trillions of dollars are spent in premiums, and Black-owned companies are getting virtually nothing. So, it’s time to invest back in ourselves.
Lastly, as I mentioned earlier, the insurance sector was the fountain of Black wealth in the past. Let’s reclaim that. Let’s reclaim what’s rightfully ours.
What’s up next for BLK Insurance?
We’re soon launching a big initiative to get our community fully insured. I can’t say too much right now but stay tuned.