Article Summary – The fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in America

Source: The fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in America
Author: Amy Haimerl


It isn’t surprising that in an economic downturn, a surge of entrepreneurship rises. However, what may be surprising is the number of women-owned businesses, and more specifically, businesses owned by African American women that are drawing unprecedented numbers to the workforce in new businesses.

In her article The Fastest Growing Group of Entrepreneurs in America, author Amy Haimerl brings to light that over the last nineteen years since 1997, businesses owned by African American women grew by 322%–larger than the number of firms owned by all minority women combined.  This is part of a large movement over the past two decades of women entering entrepreneurship–growing by 74% from 1997-2015.  And beginning in 2007 to the present, women-owned firms have added approximately 340,000 jobs to the economy.

But it is the African American woman in the privately-held company which is gaining the most attention. The author quotes Margot Dorfman, CEO of U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, who cites the rise in women-owned firms to several negative factors such as pay lacking in equality, unequitable promotions, and lack of policies which support a family-friendly environment. Dorfman points out the women of color are ‘impacted more significantly’ by these adverse factors, and therefore have elected leave corporate America in favor of entrepreneurship.

What is helping fuel the rise of African American women owning businesses across the country? In Detroit, an economic education course from the Build Institute teaches the basics of starting and running a business. Its purpose is to close the gap between high-growth technology companies and main street community entrepreneurs in order to cater to all levels of entrepreneurs and building their understanding of how to grow companies and create wealth. It is succeeding by graduating over 600 students from an eight-week course with almost three-quarters of them being women.

While it is impressive to see numbers of businesses grow among African American women, there is also another side of the equation. American Express reports that only 10% of businesses owned by women actually have employees, resulting in only mid-range growth.  Overall the businesses are smaller on average with low employment growth.  The result? The lack of a high-growth trajectory for women-owned businesses which would create wealth to support themselves, employees and communities.

The bottom line, while there is a surge of growth in entrepreneurship among African American women, the growth remains in the mid-level range, without a high-growth trajectory.