Shawna Pointville Literally ‘Got Bank’ But Her Greatest Investment Is In People

Shawna Pointville Literally ‘Got Bank’ But Her Greatest Investment Is In People

Find Out How This Liberty City Native Became A Multimillionaire Through Entrepreneurship and Real Estate, Then Bought A Bank

Shawna Pointville
Shawna Pointville may be a multimillionaire entrepreneur, but making money isn’t her sole objective. She desires to help her people. Photo Courtesy of Shawna Pointville via Robin V.

While other people were locked up in quarantine, Shawntravia “Shawna” Pointville was using her “downtime” to buy a bank. It’s the latest addition to an impressive portfolio she’s been building since her early 20s. Now a multimillionaire whose success is constantly evolving, Pointville, 40, will quickly tell you she’s just a girl from Liberty City.

Anyone who knows the CEO, entrepreneur and investor will confirm her self-assessment is correct. Far from braggadocious, if you met Pointville without knowing she was worth millions, she’d never tell you. After spending some time with Pointville, it’ll become evident she doesn’t consider cash to be her greatest asset.

Despite being the founder of the successful Excel Kids Academy and owning double-digit commercial and residential properties, for Pointville the greatest investment she makes is in people.

Hardworking yet humble, Pointville is not only training up the next generation of leaders by giving them a safe space to learn and grow, she’s also willing to sit down and give other Black people the knowledge and tools they need to be successful.

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The caveat: They have to be willing to have faith and do the work.

“I feel called to be a coach, a mentor and a consultant. I have to be here for my people and make space and have people believe,” Pointville told The Moguldom Nation in an exclusive interview. “I say it all the time, I’m here and I’m telling you everything I know for free. I make myself available to sit down and have intimate one-on-ones. I stop working to meet with people sometimes and they don’t even have pen and paper to take notes and secure the information. How is that? Why is that?”

Just a girl from Liberty City

Pointville is a tried-and-true Miami girl. Born and raised in Liberty City, she and her family moved to Opa-Locka when she was five. She remembers walking to Rainbow Park Elementary with her older brother on her first day of kindergarten. Then her family moved to back to Liberty City and she attended neighborhood schools.

They included Charles R. Drew Elementary and middle schools, then briefly attended William H. Turner Technical Arts School before landing at the historically Black Miami Northwestern Senior High School (MNW) in her sophomore year.

Graduating in 1997 (20 years after her mother, who is also a MNW alum, she proudly points out), Pointville credits the school and Liberty City community with preparing her for her success. She recalled “the uncles and aunties … teachers that were like parents and the little old ladies across the street watching if they tried to sneak out of school for lunch” who made sure she stayed on the right path.

“We were a community of people in a rough neighborhood, but at the end of the day, we all loved and protected and took care of each other, even through hard times,” Pointville told Moguldom. “I want to make sure that I highlight not only Liberty City, but Northwestern also because it means so much to me.”

Today, despite her success, Pointville said she stays true to who she is.

“I’m a brown girl from the hood that done sat on bus stops and walked from the laundry mat with a black garbage bag and I still got that soul. I’m my grandmothers’ baby – and I’m still that way,” Pointville said.

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Being an entrepreneur and investor wasn’t initially on Pointville’s radar. She wanted to follow in the footsteps of an aunt she admired and be a police officer.

“The majority of my family is in education and law enforcement. There was a lot going on around me as a child, things that happen typically in our community. Some families thrived on the other side of the law and I made a commitment to myself that I was going to push through, work hard and make gains the right way,” Pointville said. “In the midst of everything around us, my aunt was in the police academy. She was on the other side of what we were exposed to and I admired her for that.”

Pointville went on to become a corrections officer, and after working in the field for 10 years, had an epiphany.

“Coming from the criminal justice arena, I identified that I preferred being preventive instead of rehabilitative,” Pointville said. “I wanted to make a way and pave a path so my people would know they had options aside from scarcity, fear and poverty to make good decisions, lead successful productive lives and be great citizens, so that’s where Excel manifested.”

You have to be safe to excel

Pointville created Excel Academy to give inner city kids a place they could feel safe and thrive. Photo: Facebook

With a $90,000 line of equity from her home, an additional $100,000 she’d sacrificed to save and her faith in God, Pointville left her guaranteed six-figure career in corrections and started Excel Academy in 2008.

“After 10 years of being a correctional officer, seeing people that looked like me, my neighbors and family members all behind bars, I realized many people behind bars have great gifts and talents, but if you’re hungry or your grandmother is trying to raise you because your parents are astray; and you’re facing all the things that come with growing up in the hood,  it’s not always so easy,” Pointville said.

She figured if she could find a way to intervene early on, she could really change the dire stats in her community.

“I said, ‘Let me give you good food, a safe, clean environment, table manners, and exposure to travel and the arts to pave a way for children from birth to be safe, healthy and have a 360-degree fullness of nurturing and wellness,’” Pointville said. “I felt if I could give them the best 12 hours of their lives from 0 to 12 years old, the time they were away from Excel, they would really only have to endure four hours of it until they fell asleep and returned. … There would be no need for the jailhouse rehabilitation system as they call it, but there’s really not much rehabilitation happening in the prison system.”

Students at Excel Academy work on activity in class. Photo: Facebook.

Working in law enforcement, Pointville said she was missing out on valuable family time with her husband Fito and their children.

“I was also just trying to frame up a way to be free. Although I was making six figures, I was barely ever home,” Pointville told Moguldom. “I wasn’t present for my children’s dance recitals or my husband’s birthday or our anniversary. It was just work. I was either at work or sleep, so I said, ‘God please make a way for me to be able to sustain my family and build for the future, but allow me to be home on the weekends and at night.’”

To accomplish her dream, Pointville said she stopped shopping, traveling, eating out and spending on other luxuries because she had “tunnel vision” to “free” herself and create “space to thrive.”

“I just made the sacrifice,” Pointville said. “I was willing to eat chicken and rice every day. It’s just sacrifices and preparation. There is no limit; and nothing can get in our way when we are prepared and in alignment for opportunity when it presents itself. Just be ready. Don’t give them any excuse.”

Once opened, Excel Academy grew from nine students to its 135-student capacity within its first year. Pointville made her first million in 2010. Today, Excel is accredited by Apple and recognized by The Children’s Trust (TCT) as a “Thrive By 5 Quality Provider.” The school has also received repetitive funding from The Children’s Trust (a dedicated source of revenue established by voter referendum to improve the lives of children and families in Miami-Dade County) and the Department of Education as a testament to its effectiveness.

According to its website, today Excel has at least three campuses and is the “leading preschool in Miami’s urban areas.” Its “focus is on the beliefs that when we empower children and their families we create sustainable productive communities.”

It’s bigger than the money

Pointville being interviewed by NBC6. Photo: Facebook

Pointville is quick to point out that despite her monetary successes, Excel Academy and her other endeavors are not simply for profit. They’re about fulfilling her purpose to help improve the plight of her people.

“I don’t want any characteristics from the jailhouse happening in my school,” Pointville said. “Everyone that comes through that door is going to eat and be respected and lifted into the light. My goal is to create a culture, create a space and set an expectation and that’s what I encourage all Black business entrepreneurs to embrace.”

With locations in Liberty City and Miami Gardens, Pointville’s Excel properties were sought after by developers, but she refused to sell.

“I had an email with over $2 million dollars sitting in it and I was telling the people ‘no’ because it’s beyond money. It’s beyond stuff. I’m here because I want to be here,” Pointville said. “I show up because I love this. I show up because it’s my purpose. It’s not about a bag or a car. I didn’t even buy my bags or cars until I owned six properties.”

She wants her brothers and sisters to treat her and others in her shoes as a resource that is valued, not envied or targeted.

“When I think about people like Nipsey Hussle and other leaders who went hard for us only to be cut down in their primes, my heart breaks,” Pointville said. “I want to help. I love us so much. We have to protect each other, not hurt each other.”

She added that she hopes Black people understand this moment in history is a unique one and done is better than perfect.

“We want to be successful, we want to thrive, but we have to understand that perfect is a curse, so don’t think everything has to be exactly right and perfect. I want people to know they’re human and we’re going to mess up and fall sometimes, but it’s OK,” Pointville said.

For this reason, Pointville said she frowns on online bullying and rampant cancel culture.

“Trolling and being disgusting is people’s trauma speaking,” she said. “People should learn how to give others a chance to mess up. That’s not how I got here. I got here by being this (compassionate) Shawna. I’m always asking myself, ‘How do I make myself more available and be accessible to help pull everyone through that doubt, fear and trauma?’ It’s time. It’s time for all of us.”

She doesn’t just write checks, she owns the bank

Shawna Pointville
Pointville worked with realtor Claudienne Hibbert to purchase a bank. Photo: Courtesy of Shawna Pointville via Robin V.

Last month, Pointville shared that she was the proud owner of a bank in Largo, Florida. In a major role reversal, the bank would be writing checks to her instead of receiving them from her.

Though she is at the top of her game in business, Pointville said being a Black woman in her world still comes with challenges. For example, with her latest deal, she waited until the ink was dry on the contract and had all parties’ John Hancocks before she breathed a sigh of relief. Despite having all her ducks in a row, initially Pointville didn’t know if the deal would actually go through.

“I had all the boxes checked, the credit, the money and everything, but had a fear that because I’m a Black woman they’re not going to let this happen. I was at the closing table and until my pen hit the paper, I felt like they were going to create something to eliminate the possibility of me being able to close that deal,” Pointville admitted. “I knew I had everything in place for it to happen, but I was thinking about the facts of our history. That may have been my own fear and doubt because of the way the world works. I know we’re at a time of change and I’m thanking God for it, but I didn’t believe it until it happened.”

Normally lowkey about her real estate purchases, Pointville said she knew she had to publicly share she now counted a banking institution among her tenants.

“This isn’t just for me. I made my mind up once I signed the contract, I told the broker I was working with, I told my attorney, ‘This one I gotta share y’all. This is bigger than me. This is for us,’” Pointville told Moguldom. “SunTrust will pay me rent every month for 15 years. I own a bank. I’m making money while I sleep now.”

Pointville doesn’t want her success to be an anomaly

According to Pointville, the Black community’s success is tied not only to becoming fluent in good business acumen, but also healing holistically from centuries of systemic racism, oppression and other traumas.

“I want to share my knowledge and success; and I want to continue to grow and create space for others to do the same. I aim to help eliminate fear, doubt, insecurities and trauma. Heal and let’s build, that’s the total framework of everything I do,” Pointville said. “I can’t build on quicksand though. We have to face our adverse experiences and traumas and understand that they don’t frame our lives, they’re just episodes and situations we encountered along our journey. We can overcome them.”

It’s why she advocates at the local, state and national level for Black businesses and Black children. It’s why she pays above minimum wage. It’s why she doesn’t hesitate to help others any way she can.

But Pointville reiterated she can’t do it alone. People have to be willing to do the work – both internally and externally – to overcome generational poverty and a lack mindset.

Pointville, far left, speaks as a panelist at No Small Matter. Photo: Twitter

“I’m getting the knowledge at the tables and I’ll tell you everything I know … I just need you to be comfortable being uncomfortable and making the sacrifice to educate yourself; be willing to sacrifice for a year and separate yourself from everything that’s defeating you,” Pointville said.

Building solid relationships and having courage in the face of fear are also critical, she’s learned.

“Relationships are so important. It’s about calculated risks. If it makes sense, the numbers are right and the situation fits, it’s not that it won’t be difficult or challenging, but take calculated risks,” Pointville advised.

To do so, Pointville said people’s perspectives and priorities have to shift.

“What I want to come out of this is we believe in ourselves and we’re able to build wealth for generations to come,” Pointville said. “How many cars do you need? How many purses do you need? My thing is that my children’s children are OK.”

Mother, example, legacy

Shawna Pointville
The Pointville Women. From left to right: Christin Burch, Shawna Pointville, Paris Pointville, Paige Whitehead. Photo Courtesy of Shawna Pointville via Nate Veal Photography.

Before she is a multimillionaire mogul, Pointville said she is dedicated to her family. She and Fito have been married for 17 years, have five children and she is anxiously awaiting the day they can welcome their first grandchild.

“My husband has worked so hard over the years and as a Black man, he’s faced many challenges. It hasn’t been easy on him, but we’re in this together. … I’m also so proud of my kids. I’m telling them to hurry up. I’m ready to have a grandbaby! I even have my grandma nickname picked out,” Pointville laughed.

She said she sees some of her characteristics in her kids.

“They get it. They’re independent and they don’t ask for much of anything, They’re strong-willed, determined, willing to take risks and willing to make mistakes; knowing sometimes you’re going to mess up, but it’s just about sweeping it up and trying again,” Pointville said.

Her words are underscored by the fact that some of her children are already following in her footsteps. Her daughter Paige Whitehead, 26, owns two businesses – Kreadiv Spaces, which leases office space to local businesses and entrepreneurs, and Snobb Lash Miami, a beauty business that offers lash services.

“She taught us to be strong, to stay grounded and be financially responsible,” Whitehead told Moguldom. “Everything a young lady would aspire to be, my mom is. I don’t take it for granted because there are a lot of young women who want to be entrepreneurs who didn’t have that example. I’ve seen my mom wake up early, work late, go to school, go out of town for different conferences and never take no for an answer. Seeing how strong she is, how passionate she is, taught me that in anything you do you have to be the best at it.”

Still just a girl from Liberty City

Shawna Pointville in Washington, D.C. advocating for Miami’s children and families. Photo: Facebook

In addition to Excel Academy and her real estate portfolio, Pointville is passionate about consignment and interior design. She said she still loves the thrill of bargain shopping and is currently building other businesses around those passions.

“There’s something about the thrill of knowing that I have amazing things, marked down, discounted, that may be cracked or chipped, but are still beautiful,” Pointville said. “I call the blemishes beauty marks because they’re a reminder that nothing is perfect, no matter how good it looks; and that’s OK. they’re not any less valuable. There’s a lesson in that.”

Pointville maintains that despite her success and recent purchase of a bank, she will remain true to her authentic self. She said she considers it an honor and privilege to be a light in the darkness.

“Who would’ve thought a little girl from Liberty City would own a bank,” Pointville asked. “Nothing has changed me … I’m just a simple girl from the hood that loves my people and has a chicken coop in my backyard. I’m excited for the opportunity to be where I am and bring people along with me. It’s time for us and I appreciate that God is using me as a vessel. I want to make sure I take this crown that He’s given me and use it to His glory.”

***PLEASE NOTE: This story has been updated from its original version to include corrections about Pointville’s early life. February 1, 2021.***