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Sally C. Pipes - Contributor
[Courtesty of Pacific Research Institute]

Sally C. Pipes is President and CEO, Pacific Research Institute [go to Pipes index]

They Shall Overcome
African-American Women Tilt Toward Entrepreneurship...
[Sally C. Pipes] 2/11/04

A new report from the National Women's Business Council will help dispel the persistent stereotypes of African-American women as helpless victims unable to advance without help from the government.

According to "African-American Women and Entrepreneurship," these women own 365,110 businesses nationwide, employing 200,000 people and generating nearly $14 billion in sales. The number of these firms has increased 17 percent between 1997 and 2002, with a sales increase of seven percent. More than one-third of all firms owned by African Americans are owned by women, employing 25 percent of the workers and generating 15 percent of the sales.

The number of businesses owned by African-American women represents six percent of all privately held firms in the United States that are majority-owned by women. Those are impressive numbers, but there is more to the story.

African-American women, the study found, were more likely to start their firms alone, and to be the sole owner. The study also found that, in the fastest growing firms, 80 percent of the owners started the business out of a desire "to exercise more control over their own destiny." Other frequently cited goals included using management expertise and education, building personal wealth, serving the community, and overcoming racial barriers.

The study shows that barriers do still exist, with 47 percent of African-American women encountering difficulties in obtaining financing for their businesses, compared to 28 percent of whites, 27 percent of Hispanics, and 22 percent of Asian women business owners. Still, the study found that "African-American women have a higher propensity for entrepreneurship than white or Hispanic women, who are about equally as likely to attempt to start a business."

There are a number of reasons why this report should come as good news. Women who run profitable businesses are not likely to be dependent on men, something that feminists should cheer about. They are also less dependent on government, a significant achievement although not one that receives as much attention from mainstream feminists. Indeed, though the report doesn't show it, women business owners are likely to find government a hindrance rather than a help, primarily in the form of regulation.

Through their example, they inspire others and dispel political correctness. As the report shows, the number of businesses owned by African-American women is impressive and growing. And it demolishes the myth that these women are helpless victims.

The report also shows that businesses owned by African-American women are concentrated in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. Certainly, one would like to see a broader profile of states.

Policymakers and legislators, at the national, state, and local level, can help by easing regulation, lowering taxes, and generally making it easier for all women to start and maintain a business. The message from government should not be "depend on us" but "you go, girl." The entire nation will be the better for it.

copyright 2004 Pacific Research Institute




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