Black women-owned businesses continue to expand the world of entrepreneurship. Their presence has risen by over 67 percent since 2007 and shows no sign of faltering. There are more businesses owned by Black women than Black men. Yet, Black female entrepreneurs continue to face challenges that threaten their right to thrive. Walker’s Legacy, a global business women’s collective, released a report that examines these challenges and offers recommendations on how they can be overcome. The in-depth analysis details the struggle faced by Black female business owners and offers a road map of solutions to help future generations of Black female entrepreneurs. Commissioned by the US Small Business Administration and the National Women‘s Business Council, the report, its findings, and its recommendations, will be used to help guide and inform policy developed by the White House and Congress.
The results of the report were gathered during events hosted by Walker’s Legacy in Houston, New York and Washington, D.C. Each event featured Black female entrepreneurs, financial services representatives, government officials, business leaders, academics and business service providers. Among the plethora of issues discussed, three common themes surfaced: Flexibility and fulfillment, access to capital and resources, and mentorship and network. Besides pursuing their passions, the women shared that having a flexible schedule while balancing work and family life along with creating a legacy for their children and communities motivated their business ventures. Adequate funding is one of the largest obstacles that Black female entrepreneurs encounter. Participants reported that they often use their personal funds for their businesses due to lack of knowledge about resources and discriminatory practices by lenders. The struggle to get a seat at the right tables stirs up frustration, fear of rejection and aversion to the convoluted process of acquiring funds. While organizations like Walker’s Legacy are essential, a gap remains for mentors who are knowledgeable, accessible and able to advocate for emerging entrepreneurs.
The report addresses the dynamics of a unique population, presenting specific recommendations to Black women business owners and stakeholders. Recommendations to the business owners advise them to diversify, build and alternate. Successful Black women entrepreneurs aim to diversify their business connects, building networks that increase their net worth. Actively seeking out and cultivating relationships is how the reports advise Black women to build their businesses. Modeling and adopting the ways of others who have reached levels to which they aspire. Using nontraditional financing options, such as crowdfunding and pitch competitions are alternatives to Black women using their personal funds and loans.
The report’s recommendations to stakeholders include increasing the number of Black women angel investors (affluent individuals who provide financial capital for new business ventures); improving and expanding information and resource sharing targeting Black female business owners, including local, community enterprise resource programs; further development of mentorship programs and networking opportunities for Black women-owned businesses; and encouraging entrepreneurship programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities with incorporation of diverse curricula into these programs.
The report is one of a series of planned NWBC studies into subpopulations of female business owners, which will be released over the coming year.
“Black women play — and have played — a vital role in the entrepreneurial landscape with the U.S.,” said Walker’s Legacy founder and CEO, Natalie M. Cofield. “With this report, we’re proud to continue to champion the agenda of understanding, empowering and supporting Black women business owners by raising this critical dialogue nationally.”
Walker’s Legacy emulates its namesake with ongoing events and programs for Black female entrepreneurs. Author and financial guru Gail Perry Mason recently applauded the foundation’s efforts. “Walker’s legacy is for women … we can all live the Walker legacy with the tools that we have … together we can do more.”
For more information about Walker’s Legacy and to download “Black Women Entrepreneurs: Past and Present Conditions of Black Women’s Business Ownership,” visit www.walkerslegacy.com.