Ernesta Procope Blazes Trails in Real Estate and Insurance

From Storefront to Wall Street, Ernesta G. Procope Has Blazed Trails in Insurance and Real Estate

(Image: File)
Black Enterprise, June 2014, BE 100s cover (Image: File)

From there, the bigger companies started rolling in. The company even became the agency of record for the U.S. portion of the Alaska Pipeline and the Fulbright U.S. Student Program through the U.S. Information Agency. In fact, E.G. Bowman was ranked No. 15 on BLACK ENTERPRISE‘s first list of the nation’s largest black-owned businesses —then known as the Top 100 — when it was unveiled in the June 1973 issue. Procope became the first woman to earn the distinction of being a CEO of a BE 100s company.

As its president and chief executive officer, Procope made history in 1979 when she relocated her business from the streets of Brooklyn to 97 Wall Street in the heart of the financial district of New York City. That move made The E.G. Bowman Co. the first African American-owned business to be located on Wall Street. Given the title of ‘The First Lady of Wall Street,’ Procope led E.G. Bowman to earn $40 million in premiums in 2004 and lured big-name clients such as IBM, Time Warner, General Motors, and Philip Morris. She is also the founder and president of Bowman Specialty Services L.L.P., an extension of her business that provides engineering and safety services.

As Procope stated in National Underwriter Property & Casualty-Risk & Benefits Management, “I feel that I have an advantage because I am a black female. I don’t let being a minority or being a woman deter me. I have no complexes about being a woman or being black. I turn that around.” And in the New York Amsterdam News, “While a few women have broken through the ‘glass ceiling,’ it is imperative that the insurance industry be made aware of the talents, credibility, exceptional training, and experience of women who are ready to move forward with all deliberate speed.”

Procope has honorary doctor of law degrees from Howard University, Adelphi University, and Marymount Manhattan College, as well as a doctor of humane letters from Morgan State University.

She has received numerous awards. In 1993, Ernst & Young named her Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2003, Procope was inducted into the African American Hall of Fame, and in 2006 she was named to the Minority Business Hall of Fame and Museum. In 2010, she was a recipient of the Black Enterprise Women Of Power Legacy Award. Other awards and honors include Essence magazine’s 2004 Power Award, Turner Broadcasting System’s 2002 Trumpet Award, Business Insurance’s Leading 100 Women in the Insurance Industry, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Person of the Year, and the Institute for Community Development’s Community Leadership Award.

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