Bridget Chisholm has over 35 years of executive experience and has achieved tremendous success in her expansive career in finance. She has earned an industry identification for being a serial entrepreneur, ecosystem capacity builder, and investor. She has founded and exited multiple high-performing companies. Since 2005, she has closed over $1 billion in multi-layered specialty financing transactions and investments. Chisholm is an innovator who uses disruptive thinking to challenge systems, advance and build wealth in historically underserved sectors, including Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), communities, people, and capital providers.
Additionally, Chisholm leverages her ten years of extensive experience in marketing and branding for Fortune 500 companies, including RJR, Nabisco, and General Mills, and top-ranked cosmetic company, Maybelline, to activate unique perspectives. She met the SEC guidelines for audit committee financial expert (ACFE) designation and was the second woman to be appointed to the NC Banking Commission and serves on the Board of Trustees for Texas College (HBCU). She is the Chairwoman of The Links, Incorporated Economic Empowerment Platform (LEEP) and previously served on the Shelby County (TN) County Commissioners. She completed her education at Wake Forest University and the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business.
Q: What's your background, and what are you working on?
I am currently working on multiple projects, specifically focused on initiatives and deals that help close the wealth gap in minority communities of color! It’s critically important that underserved areas receive the same advantages and opportunities that others receive through well-funded communities and community initiatives.
Q: What motivated you to get started with BWC Consulting?
I started BWC Consulting, which stands for Building Wealth & Communities Consulting, because I witnessed first-hand what was happening in Memphis, TN, a majority-minority Black city. There was so much growth and development in the downtown urban areas, but none of it was being led or directed by Black residents. Given my broad and deep business knowledge in finance, real estate, franchise, branding, politics, and education and my understanding of economic incentives used to mitigate risk and get tough deals done, I felt compelled to do more. I began to wonder in the midst of all of this rapid growth and development — who will focus on MBEs, including HBCUs, minority developers, and prioritize building wealth and resilient communities?
Q: How have you attracted clients and grown your firm?
We have grown the BWC firm and brand primarily through word of mouth and by leveraging innovative techniques and our expertise to close deals that others considered impossible. We’ve grown the firm by focusing on driving high impact, with a serious commitment to making a difference. That is the foundation of BWC. We focus less on individual accolades and more on the collective advances we can make together. That’s how we deliver transformational results! That’s the BWC story!
Q: What are your goals for the future?
Our focus and future goals are to continue growing, learning, and disrupting for scale and liquidity that yields legacy by closing the wealth gap for our community.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you've faced and obstacles you've overcome?
Many come to mind! When I started on the entrepreneurial track in 1998, I purchased an existing 12-unit franchise and development rights to its MSA (Memphis – Northern MS – Dyersburg, TN). Not many women of color were operating in this space, which at times felt challenging. But I persisted and successfully put the acquisition financing of $20M and private equity of $1M together. So, when I exited this deal to start BWC, I felt incredibly empowered. I was a pioneer. I navigated the waters of the finance world as a young Black woman who worked for herself, moving past visible and invisible impediments.
When it comes to navigating complex situations, I’ve found a trusted sounding board to be the best resource. I got an executive coach to help me focus, keep me grounded, and get to the other side of peace, purpose, confidence. Above all else, my faith and trust in God have remained steadfast throughout my life and my career, carrying me through every perceived obstacle.
Q: What's your advice for female founders who are just starting out?
My advice to female founders or anyone looking to start a business is — invest in you! You are your biggest asset, so invest and spend time on yourself. Time is truly the most valuable currency. Invest time in prayer, planning, understanding, and knowing your ‘WHY,’ then you can identify the tactics to help you get there. Start inward first, and work out. And once you understand why you are launching your business, remain true to the reasons you started.
Last, do not let others dim your light or marginalize and contort your vision. You will always be at your best when you are authentic, so trust yourself and your vision, and be prepared to say “No” when you need to! The people and deals always come back around and on your terms!