Born in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1931
President and CEO, E.G. Bowman, Inc.
Ernesta Procope is the founder and CEO of E.G. Bowman, Inc., the largest minority-owned insurance brokerage company in the U.S. Her determination and business savvy grew her firm from a small storefront in Brooklyn to the first minority-owned company on Wall Street. She is also credited as being the driving force behind insurance reforms that provided coverage to low-income families.
Procope as a baby
Encouraged by her first husband, real estate broker Albin Bowman, she attended the Pohs Institute for Insurance and Real Estate. Procope received her license in 1950 and began to master the insurance business. After her husband died in 1953, Procope established E.G. Bowman, specializing in home coverage and other lines. Her store-front office served churches and families in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. In 1954, she married John Procope, former publisher of New York’s Amsterdam News.
Procope as a young lady
In the 1970’s, E.G. Bowman began to solicit the business of large corporations. Some of these clients included PepsiCo Inc. and Avon Products. She later received business from Philip Morris, TimeWarner, Tiffany and General Motors, government agencies and nonprofits who remain clients today. By 1979, Procope moved her firm out of Brooklyn onto Wall Street to be close to the insurance marketplace, making it the first African American company with that prestigious address.
Procope faced many obstacles and frustrations while building her business in a competitive field dominated by white males. Yet she remained fiercely determined to be a success. She credits her fearlessness to growing up with three older brothers. “I think I got a lot of my strength from them, not only physically, but mentally,” she says.
Procope was inducted into the African American Business Hall of Fame and Museum in 2003. Among her many honors, she is also the recipient of the Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal Entrepreneurial Excellence award, Crain’s New York Business All-Star Award and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Person of the Year Award. Procope has also served on numerous corporate boards including Chubb Corporation, Columbia Gas System, Inc. and as a trustee of Cornell University.
After 50 years in business, Procope remains at the helm of E.G. Bowman and is looking forward to future opportunities and creating a succession plan for her company. She and her husband and business partner, John, are working to develop and mentor in-house talent in the areas of sales, marketing and administration.VIDEO CLIPS
• Ernesta Procope's biography on Answers.com
URL (Click to bookmark): http://www.visionaryproject.org/procopeernesta