Is the phenomenon of women entrepreneurship changing the face of American business? Without almost anyone in the business media taking note, there's been an astounding growth in the number of new businesses started and owned by women of color within the past decade. A look at some key statistics highlights this explosion of entrepreneurial activity led by women in general, but found in equally impressive numbers of African-American women, Hispanics and Asian Americans. As of 2015, for example, according to SCORE:
- More than nine million women-owned businesses are currently in place across the U.S.
- These businesses employ nearly eight million workers and generate $1.4 trillion in annual revenues.
- Since 1997, women-owned businesses in the U.S. have skyrocketed by almost 68% (the number of men-owned firms saw a 34.4% increase).
- From 1997-2014, businesses owned by women of color jumped from 1 million to 3 million.
- Business ownership among women of color exploded (215.7%, increasing revenues by 193%).
- Ownership growth by women entrepreneurs of color jumped nearly 68% and saw revenue growth of 72%.
According to SCORE, "the highest concentration of women-owned enterprises" occurs in health care and social assistance, education and other professional services.
What's behind this amazing growth in women- and minority-owned businesses? In many respects, it's a response to obstacles women of color (and minorities in general) have encountered in the business world.
"We attribute the growth in women-owned firms to the lack of fair pay, fair promotion, and family-friendly policies found in corporate America," states Margot Dorfman, CEO of the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce. She contends that women of color "are impacted more significantly by all of the negative factors that women face," so it's not surprising "that they have chosen to invest in themselves."
The largest numbers of African-American women-owned businesses are centered in Georgia, Maryland, and Illinois, but growth is taking place elsewhere across the U.S. as well.
A study from the Center for Global Policy Solutions offers additional data concerning this promising trend of expanded business ownership:
- Between 2007 and 2012, minority-owned businesses added 72.3% of new jobs in the U.S.
- Hispanic women business ownership jumped 26.5% in this period, with African-American women-owned businesses increasing by 20.2%.
According to the center, "if the share of minority-owned businesses were equal to their share of the labor force," this would translate into "an additional 1.1 million businesses, approximately nine million more jobs" and potentially as much as "$300 billion in income for workers."