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Optus Bank Honored with the Robert J. Brown Minority Business Enterprise of the Year Award

CRBR Biz Wire //October 31, 2023//

Optus Bank Honored with the Robert J. Brown Minority Business Enterprise of the Year Award

CRBR Biz Wire //October 31, 2023//

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Pictured: Donald R. Cravins, Jr., Under Secretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development; Dominik Mjartan, Optus Bank President and CEO; Jessica G. Cavazos, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development

Columbia, SC – Optus Bank, the only Black-owned bank in South Carolina, was presented the prestigious Robert J. Brown Minority Business Enterprise of the Year award by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Tuesday, October 24 at a ceremony in Baltimore Maryland. Optus Bank President & CEO, Dominik Mjartan, was on hand to accept the award.

Endorsed by the South Carolina MBDA Business Center, operated by DESA Inc., Optus Bank’s Chairman, Paul Mitchell, and President & CEO, Dominik Mjartan, were acknowledged for their contributions to the remarkable growth and success of one of the nation’s most rapidly expanding minority banks. The presentation was made during the 2023 National MED Week Awards Ceremony, hosted at the Baltimore Convention Center.

MBDA Under Secretary, Donald R. Cravins, Jr., and Deputy Under Secretary, Jessica G. Cavazos, presented to award to Optus Bank. As one of only 20 Black-owned banks in the United States, Optus Bank was recognized for an its impact on underserved communities driven by exponential growth of total assets, which soared from the recent low point of $47 million in 2017 to more than $480 million while directing more than $400 million in capital to underserved communities.

“Optus Bank’s growth from a historically significant bank in South Carolina to a national mission driven bank was fueled by the visionary leadership of our board and team supported by our customers, communities and impact investors. We all share a belief that all people should have opportunities to build wealth, regardless of their zip code and other inherited circumstances,” stated Dominik Mjartan, President and CEO of Optus Bank.

Optus Bank’s strategy and performance has attracted depositors, borrowers and investors from across the country, building on a legacy established by its predecessor, Victory Savings Bank. In 1921, Victory Savings was established to ensure that access to capital to support the community was available as the bank offered loans to African Americans after widespread economic reprisals. In the 1960s, Modjeska Monteith Simkins, a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement in South Carolina as well as Optus Bank’s pivotal manager, received nationwide support and deposits from teachers, unions, and other organizations and businesses. Optus Bank’s resiliency and unwavering dedication to its focus on closing the wealth gap exemplify the principles of Robert J. Brown, a member of the Nixon Foundation who quietly championed, advocated for, and created opportunities to assist the less fortunate in their pursuit of economic advancement, home ownership, and education.

Diane Sumpter, President & CEO of DESA, commented, “The SC MBDA Business Center has played a pivotal role as a liaison, facilitator, marketer, and advocate for the preservation and growth of the state’s only Black-owned bank, securing significant investments and minority customer growth for Optus Bank.” Businesses interested in learning more about the Center should call 803-743-1152 or email

About Optus Bank: Optus Bank’s origins date back to 1921 when a group of visionary and courageous African American leaders founded a bank on the principle that all people should have access to the American Dream, regardless of their circumstances. Optus Bank is a federally designated Minority Depository Institution, a U.S. Treasury Certified Community Development Financial Institution and an FDIC insured depository. If you believe that all people should have access to wealth building opportunities, visit us at

About the MBDA Business Center: The mission of South Carolina MBDA Business Center is to assist business compete in the global economy and to stimulate the national and local economy through job creation. To fulfill this mission, we assist businesses with access to contracts and capital, strategic business counseling, and becoming export-ready. For more information on the MBDA Business Center and its services, visit or call (803) 743-1152.