Black Women Are Using Dollars and Sense to Make and Grow Their Own Businesses

By Ernest Holsendolph

Forming, growing and maintaining a business is tough, but it is especially challenging for African-American women, according to studies sponsored by the National Foundation for Women Business Owners.

"Many women quit jobs and go into business because of issues such as the glass ceiling, but African-American women in particular face special odds in trying to succeed," says Sharon Hadary, the foundation's executive director.

According to a foundation study, the number of firms owned by Black women increased by 135 percent between 1987 and 1996; the number increased 206 percent for Hispanic women and 138 percent for Asian/others. Black women own 37 percent of minority women-owned firms, compared with 35 percent for Hispanic women and 28 percent for Asian/other women. More than half of firms started by minority women, 56 percent, are in the service sector; 19 percent are in retail trade and 8 percent are in finance, insurance or real estate. The greatest growth, however, has been in nontraditional areas, such as construction and wholesale trade.

Despite the obstacles, Hadary says, African-American women show great resolve by being very aggressive in finding help, seeking training and trying various ways to grow their businesses.

Chief among those obstacles is getting capital from male-dominated lending institutions. Also, for African-American women--more than other categories of business owners--finding time and needed resources is especially tough because a high percentage of the businesses are part-time operations.

What seems to distinguish many women-owned businesses from others is the fearlessness of many of the owners, who unhesitatingly expand and step out on their hopes, thereby giving themselves more of a chance to succeed, or to fail.

Moxie applauds their courage.

-Excerpted from Emerge: Black America's Newsmagazine (June 1999).

Copyright 1999 Moxie Magazine All Rights Reserved