For Women Entrepreneurs of Color: Good News, But More Needed

Maya Rockeymoore, president and CEO of Center for Global Policy Solutions says policy shifts can help women entrepreneurs of color. This is not just about a gender gap; it is about the combined barriers of a gender and racial gap in economic progress and how everyone can work to enhance the success rate of all women leaders. The good news is the recession was good for women entrepreneurs of color, but more movement to parity is needed.A new study from the Center for Global Policy Solutions, ‘The Color of Entrepreneurship,” shows the disparities in the number of businesses, employees, sales and more between 2007 and 2012, accounting for factors of gender and race. It also shows that more women entrepreneurs of color started new businesses.Author Algernon Austin writes, “If the number of people-of-color firms were proportional to their distribution in the labor force, people of color would own 1.1 million more businesses with employees. These firms would add about 9 million jobs and about $300 billion in workers’ income to the U.S. economy.”

According to the Wall Street Journa: “It shows the appetite and the desire for business ownership amongst communities of color,” said Maya Rockeymoore, the president and CEO of the Center for Global Policy Solutions, which focuses on social equity and hosts a summit in Washington calling for new policies to help boost minority entrepreneurship. “That is what we’re trying to tap into.”The CGPS report continues, “There are roughly one million potentially successful entrepreneurs of color who are being held back because of their low levels of family wealth, lack of experience running a business, and low levels of education.”

According to the comprehensive study, “Nearly all of the entrepreneur-of-color groups experienced significant growth in the number of their firms from 2007 to 2012. Asian American women-owned firms had the strongest numerical growth rate, 37.6 percent.”Hispanic women-owned firms saw an increase in businesses of 26.5 percent, and black women showed an increase in businesses of 20 percent in that five-year period. White women-owned businesses have the largest number of employees, with 7.1 million employees in 2012, a 7.7 percent increase over the number of employees five years earlier.Commenting on the CGPS report for the Independent Women’s Forum, author Patrice J. Lee writes: “Two of the key policy recommendations are excellent and would benefit business owners of all races: encouraging entrepreneurs to seek mentorship and adding entrepreneurship as a part of career and technical education for high school students. However, tax incentives for venture capitalists to invest in minority-owned businesses that help them overcome lack of access to capital are well-intentioned, and we hope there won’t be unintended consequences.”In a story asking women entrepreneurs of color who are business innovators what they would create next, Indigo Ocean Dutton writes in Huffington Post: “Dr. Marlo Rencher of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Cleary University, offered, ‘I would start a business that would remove a significant barrier for businesses trying to scale. My startup would enable businesses to document their processes quickly, easily and socially. It would also allow founders to know whether or not how they do business is effective. I’ve been wrestling with the problem for a while—I’ve even got a prototype. I’m sure that it is a problem worth solving.’”Dutton interviews Angelica Yarde of the branding and design firm, Sevenality: “I would create an online fitness program catering to women of color. I think there are some great people in the fitness space right now, but nothing online specifically for women of color. It would feature videos, articles, and programs created by health professionals to help create empowerment and positive self-acceptance within the target market.”More inspiration from entrepreneurs, comes from Safon Floyd who writes in Black Enterprise the wisdom she garnered from Co-Founder and CEO of Miss Jessie’s L.L.C., Miko Branch:  “Many entrepreneurs are afraid that they don’t possess the tools or access to really succeed in business, Branch offers: ‘You don’t need privileges or degrees. We didn’t have MBAs and we didn’t get bank loans or find angel investors. What we had was a seed of an idea and a solid foundation of family and influences to learn from and observe.”Writing in Best Techie, Jeff Weisbein interviews the founders of Crush Mobile, Sonya Kreizman and Natasha Nova, who created companies specifically targeting women of color with dating apps just for them.[bctt tweet=“Perhaps what all of these women entrepreneurs have in common is boldness.”]“Their company, Crush Mobile, has released three dating platforms: MiCrush for Latinos, JCrush for Jews, and UrbanCrush for African Americans. The pair have already had some success and recently announced that MiCrush has amassed 400k downloads and helped make 1.5M matches.“Named recently to Time’sThe 100 Most Influential People” list, and reportedly earning more than $21 million  in record sales, actress, performer and music mogul Nicki Minaj tells Black Enterprise, “As a child, my mother didn’t have a job where she was the boss. And I always looked at that and wished she was the boss and did make her own rules. So from very early on, I felt like ‘You know what? Whatever I do, one day I want to be more in charge of my business.’”Perhaps what all of these women entrepreneurs have in common is boldness.  The latest research in Harvard Business Review shows, “A common stereotype is that men have a tendency to be bolder than women. But looking through our database of 360-degree assessments from 75,000 leaders around the world, we noticed that on average the women were bolder than the men.”According to authors Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, women score higher in all fields than men on rankings of boldness. The disciplines range from engineering and finance to manufacturing, sales, product development and quality control.  The authors identified boldness with these attributes:

  • Challenges standard approaches
  • Creates an atmosphere of continual improvement
  • Does everything possible to achieve goals
  • Gets others to go beyond what they originally thought possible
  • Energizes others to take on challenging goals
  • Quickly recognizes situations where change is needed
  • Has the courage to make needed changes

Their conclusions?“In every function, the women leaders had higher boldness ratings on average than the male leaders.” They add, “So to return to our original question, are women bolder than men? Probably not in the general population. But the ones who succeed in business, especially men-dominated fields, may have to be.”