The last quarter of 2019 saw a lot of conversation in the city focused on the findings of Pittsburgh’s Inequality Across Gender and Race report. Like many other studies conducted in the region concerning equity, the results painted a bleak picture for African Americans and, in particular, Black women. Conducted by the City of Pittsburgh Gender Equity Commission, the results indicated that gender and racial inequality persist across health, income, employment and education in Pittsburgh.
With a new year and decade upon us, questions linger. What can be done to change and improve conditions and situations of the area’s vulnerable population? Doing her part to making a difference in people’s lives and in the community, Saloam (Bey) Knox strives to assist people on a personal and business level where applicable by providing credit repair, credit education, and focused financial management. Knox, the founder and CEO of Credit Power, LLC, says, “We position people’s future by repairing their past. Our mission is to guide you on your journey to becoming financially healthy, attractive to lenders, and credit power ready.”
Her commitment and message of self-sufficiency in breaking the generational chains of poverty to transform communities causes Knox’s peers to consider her a “hustler,” defined as an enterprising person determined to succeed. Flattered by their assessment of her, Knox, in turn, defines herself as a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in the financial world.
A champion of economic community development, she says she understands that personal financial health is a fundamental building block of positioning families for sustainable generational wealth.
Considering this being the start of the year, Knox suggests that everyone should know their credit status, which includes being aware of what is on their credit report and their credit score. “You need to know what creditors see when you apply for credit and understand what hurts or doesn’t harm your credit score.”
The report, she explains, is a detailed breakdown of an individual’s credit history prepared by a credit bureau. Personal credit reporting agencies include Experian, Equifax and Trans Union. Dun and Bradstreet reports on business and commercial credit.
A credit score is defined as a statistical number that evaluates a consumer’s creditworthiness and is based on credit history. Credit scores range from 300 to 850 with the higher the score depicting a more financially trustworthy a person.
Services provided by Credit Power, LLC, include assisting in obtaining the credit report and analyzing the five components used in the rating which include credit or payment history, credit utilization, the length of credit history, new credit and the credit mixture which she considers the foundation. “Part of our services include challenging creditors, lenders, government agencies, and all three credit bureaus to permanently remove derogatory items from a client’s credit report. Together we design a strategic game plan to reach their goal.”
Depending on each client’s goal and what’s on their credit report, the credit repair process can take anywhere from 30 days to 12 to 24 months. Knox says her clients range in age from 18 to 80 and are all ethnicities. Help is rendered on a personal and business level.
A financial literacy advocate with over 20 years in collections, credit analyst, banking, and consumer industries, Knox herself has been a victim of identity theft. Experiencing firsthand the nightmare and disadvantages of not having a positive credit score, she says she learned a lot from the experience. Living in Virginia at the time, she said it took her nearly two years to get her credit restored. That incident occurred in 2011, and four years later, she established a credit restoration business in Virginia. In December 2017 she opened Credit Power, LLC, on Wylie Avenue in the Hill District. Today her main office is located at 7424 Washington Avenue in Swissvale, the Hill District office is located at 2015 Centre Avenue. She still operates the Virginia office and employs five people.
Originally from the Hill District, Knox is a 911 military veteran who served over seven years in government service. In addition to Credit Power, LLC, her business ventures include Higher Power Homes, Psalms Realty, Power Business Loans and My Business Space.
Owned by she and her husband Pastor Shawn Knox, My Business Space, with the subtitle, “Where success is created,” Knox’s business space “is exactly what it says,” she said. “It consists of business space for other small businesses. As a matter of fact, my businesses rent from this facility.”
The Washington Avenue space consists of a shared office space area that can accommodate at least eight desks for entrepreneurs and includes a community business specialist to answer phones and assist in small administrative tasks. The building will include several larger office spaces, a state-of-the-art conference, meeting, workshop and lounge area. A gym area is planned for the lower level.
Also an entrepreneur, Pastor Knox describes that he brings the spiritual component to the businesses. “Like life, you need a balance. You can’t just be driven by profits even though we are in business to make a profit. We also are in business to help people. In business, just like life, you need spiritual direction, so you don’t make the wrong business moves.”
Recognizing his gift of mathematics, he says the patience and detail he has allows him to assist his wife in those areas which balance the two as a team. He also brings his knowledge and skills in the life insurance and real estate industry to their businesses which helps bring out their vision. As a team, he says they are stronger together.
Saloam Knox’s thoughtful approach to unveiling the financial industries best-kept secrets is changing lives. In addition to her entrepreneurial ventures, she provides technical assistance for the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh’s Micro Loan Fund, is a member of the Community Land Trust Committee, the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania, and the Wilkinsburg Chamber of Commerce. She also is the former recipient of the New Pittsburgh Courier’s “Women of Excellence” award.
EXCITEMENT GROWS as Saloam and Pastor Shawn Knox work toward the opening of My Business Space in Swissvale. (Photo by Diane I. Daniels)
by Diane I. Daniels, For New Pittsburgh Courier