Ernesta G. Procope is the founder, president and CEO of E.G. Bowman Co., the first minority-owned company on Wall Street and the largest minority-owned insurance brokerage company in the United States.
Ernesta Procope was born in 1931 to West Indian Immigrant parents Clarence and Elvira Lord Foster. She showed promise as a piano prodigy and played a recital at Carnegie Hall at the age of 12. Although she attended New York’s prestigious High School of Music and Art. her interests ultimately shifted toward real estate and insurance.
When she married real estate broker Albin Bowman in the late 1940’s, he was looking for a way to insure his holdings. Insurance companies were reluctant to insure homes in poor, African-American neighborhoods. With her husband’s encouragement, Ernesta Procope attended Real Estate School, earned her license, learned the insurance industry and founded E.G. Bowman. She specialized in home coverage and personal lines in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. During the 1960’s she faced challenges as large insurance companies canceled policies she had written due to concerns of large scale property losses. She appealed to then-governor of New York Nelson Rockefeller to end the practice of redlining. It eventually resulted in the New York State Fair Plan, which guaranteed homeowner insurance to low-income families.
While her company’s foundation consisted of minority individual and small institutional accounts, Ernesta Procope’s company would eventually expand to include 75 Fortune 500 Companies and premium receipts of $35 million annually.
In the 1990’s, Ernesta Procope and her husband expanded their business interests by establishing the Bond, Procope Capital Management, an investment advisory firm. Within the first two years of this venture with Alan Bond, an African-American securities manager, the fund had attracted $315 million in assets. Her current focus is toward succession planning, grooming talent from within and without for the next phase in the history of E.G. Bowman.