Economic empowerment: How Troy Smith is providing millions of dollars in alternative financing for Black wealth ambitions

BY Preta Peace Namasaba April 12, 2024 6:48 AM EDT
Troy Smith. Photo credit: Black Business News

Troy Smith, the founder and CEO of G1 Commercial Mortgage believes that economic empowerment is the saving grace for African-Americans. He posits that to take control of wealth, Black people need to control the economic vehicles that produce wealth. This can be done by creating financial institutions that are unafraid to lend to Black-owned businesses. Smith is walking the talk. His faith-based Private Credit Fund is the first African-American mortgage lender to have delegated underwriting authority over a $100 million warehouse line.

“If we can find a way to arouse the consciousness of the everyday African-American person, we can change the economic landscape of our country forever. We, as a people, are helped to our knees but never to our feet. Unless we can create and control the vehicles that collect, store, and distribute the wealth of our communities. Too many of us will always live and toil in poverty. We must take control of our wealth,” Smith explained the philosophy behind his investment.

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, his love for finance developed through engagement in a Federal Credit Union youth program designed to teach young people how to run a financial institution. Smith sat on the board of directors for many years and traveled across the country, opening other youth credit union programs and helping youth understand the importance of the economy and commerce. He earned a bachelor’s in business management at Winston-Salem State University, an HBCU in North Carolina. While in college, Smith became interested in entrepreneurship and founded several successful small businesses in the entertainment and product development industries.

After college, Smith decided to turn one of his favorite pastimes, cooking, into a career. He learned the restaurant craft and managed several multi-million dollar restaurant chains such as The Cheesecake Factory and BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse. He worked for celebrity chefs and eventually opened a small bakery in Chandler, Arizona, which had early success.

While he loved to cook, Smith realized that he did not enjoy the day-to-day pressure that came with running a restaurant. His true passion lay in finance, believing he was called to teach and educate people about finance, how to access capital, and how to own and operate a successful business. Smith landed a position as a retail mortgage loan officer for Home Loan Network and eventually became an Account Executive for Oaktree Funding Corporation, a wholesale mortgage banker. He became an executive team member, building the business from $10 million in monthly sales to over $80 million in monthly sales in just under three years.

Having earned enough knowledge in loan underwriting, credit risk, secondary market analysis, and risk mitigation, Smith decided it was time to open a financial institution. He established Guardian Financial, LLC in 2019. Although the company went through some early struggles, it grew to become a nationwide powerhouse. Guardian Financial also provides investment consultation services where Troy teaches individuals how to leverage debt financing for long-term wealth creation.

Smith has made the biggest impact with G1 Investment, LLC, a faith-based private money mortgage lender specializing in financing rental properties. The company offers a full suite of mortgage products ranging from short-term rehab, ground-up construction, short-term bridge, and rental property (DSCR) to commercial property owner and non-owner-occupied mortgages. On a mission to improve the quality of life for those who face the greatest disparity, G1 focuses on specific markets where rental property activity is very high.

The company has strategically positioned itself within the private mortgage market by creating bank-alternative lending capital for mortgage products that would be difficult for individuals to find. It has created the first-ever Mortgage Revenue Sharing Network (MRSN) which creates wealth development opportunities for the average person who would otherwise never experience the benefits of mortgage origination commissions. G1 is the first national Private Credit Fund that has agreed to share the origination fees charged on a business-purpose mortgage transaction with anyone who shares their loan programs with others.

In addition, Smith is the Managing Partner of the United States Economic Right Coalition (USERC), a Private Credit Fund with a demand for a unique set of Limited Partners. The coalition will consist of African-American-owned banks that pool a portion of their dollars within the fund to provide responsible credit capital to underrepresented businesses and individuals. This is only one step in Operation TOOFI (The Opening Of Financial Institutions) which seeks to economically support African Americans without the government handouts.