Co-Founder of the Investment Platform for Women of Color: 2 Frequently Asked Questions
- Sharlea Brookes is the co-founder of Modern Blk Girl, a platform dedicated to building wealth for women of color.
- She says people often ask where to start investing and how much money they should start with.
- The first step is always to learn, says Brookes. Knowing more will help you fight your fears.
When Sharlea Brookes was in high school, a friend opened her computer and brought up a five-figure portfolio. “He had invested his bar mitzvah money. That was my introduction to investing,” Brookes told Insider.
Now 26, Brookes is the co-founder of Modern Blk Girl, a digital platform dedicated to building wealth for women of color. Launched last year with her business partner, Tiffany James, Modern Blk Girl’s mission is to close the gender investment and racial wealth gaps and attract 500,000 women of color to the stock market.
“Our goal is to encourage young people to invest, to get them in that mindset, so they’re saving for that first car, for college. We want them to have a head start over the of those formative years,” Brookes said.
She says they are working to change the underrepresentation of black women in the stock market. Modern Blk Girl is an educational community that offers courses on investing. Her Free Teen University, an accelerated four-week financial literacy program for young women ages 14 to 19, teaches how to invest and navigate the stock market. Each student receives a cash wallet of $500 to start. At the end of the year, two people are selected to receive a $10,000 college scholarship. Ten young people are selected every two months to participate in the program.
Modern Blk Girl has grown its community to over 150,000 members and has helped women of color earn over $3.5 million in scholarships.
She shares some of the questions that keep coming up from community members and what she tells them, and what she tells women who are afraid to start investing.
The 2 most common questions she receives about investing
One of the most asked questions by the MBG community is: “Where to start?” said Brooks.
His answer ? “Look around you. What cell phone do you use, what car do you drive, what video games do your kids play? Invest in companies you know.”
“We’re quick to buy expensive handbags or spend money on vacation,” Brookes continues. “But we have to have an ownership mentality as opposed to a spending mentality. Okay, if you buy the bag, get rewarded for that purchase if you also own shares in the company that made the bag. There has a stock related to everything in your life.”
Another common question: “How much money should I start with?” Brookes says there’s no standard answer to that one. It really depends on the financial situation of the person. “You can start with a small amount, anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. We encourage people to use simulated trading before putting money in,” she says.
The first step to successful investing is to learn as much as possible
Many MBG members are first-time investors, and investing wasn’t a topic of conversation growing up. Brookes understands. She had some initial fears herself. “It was one thing when I was investing my summer camp money that I earned in high school, but when I started working it was another thing,” she said.
She tells those who are afraid that education is the best antidote to fear. “When you do your research, when you work, you will feel more confident.” That’s how she overcame her own fear: “The internet was my best friend,” she said, turning to sources including Yahoo, the Wall Street Journal and CNBC.
Plus, it drives home the fact that investing is not a short-term game. “Patience pays off,” she said. “People mistakenly think that if they invest and trade, they’ll be successful overnight. But that’s like thinking you go to school and after a course you’ve mastered the subject.”
She says learning can help make sense of a complicated world. “Big words can be confusing. Industry insiders need to be able to translate concepts when teaching the stock market so people understand them. That’s why we took off: we break things down,” says Brookes.
And, she adds, discipline is the key to successful investing. “You can’t be emotional. You need emotional discipline to be in the stock market. dig.”
When she started, she didn’t have the community that MBG offers. “We’re family. We’re kidding. We’re not just about finances, but this community is about spirituality and well-being. It’s a safe space to learn, to share,” Brookes says.
Changing people’s mindsets about money and investing isn’t easy, but Brookes doesn’t get tired of doing well. “We remember the big picture,” she says, and calls MBG’s work a blessing. “There is purpose in what we do. There is a movement to close the racial and generational wealth gap. Our legacy will be that we educated our community.”