Dream Chasers: 9 Successful Black Women CEOs and Entrepreneurs…
Dr. Juliet E.K. Walker writes about the history of Black entrepreneurship and calls attention to the ways entrepreneurship has been at the center of Black progress in America. Historically, Black women worked as seamstresses, babysitters, beauticians, cooks, and bakers in the home, in addition to their full-time jobs, especially if they possessed the talents and skills to do so.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized their normal extracurricular activities were actually entrepreneurial efforts to help Black women support their lifestyles or families. Today, the long standing tradition continues. According to the National Association of Women Owned Businesses (NAWOB), more than 9.1 million companies are owned by women, employing nearly 7.9 million people, and generating $1.4 trillion in sales as of 2014. NAWOB also reports that one in five multimillion dollar companies are owned by a woman. The Center for American Progress reports that African American women start their own businesses at six times the rate of the national average. In 2013, African American women led companies generated $44.9 billion dollars in revenue and these companies employ over 270,000 individuals.
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family; both sides of my family ran their own businesses. I recall my grandmother and her friends hosting bus trips, picnics, and fish fries a couple of times a year during my childhood, while my other grandmother was on the governor’s board and ran her own substance abuse center. Both women ran their operations to generate income and serve their community. This is not unique. The entrepreneurial spirit of Black women has always been part of Black culture and advancement.
Black women’s business efforts have always inspired me. I studied entrepreneurship as an undergraduate student and I am currently exploring ways to launch my own company. I imagine many of us know other women that use their talents and skills to generate funds—whether it’s baking for others in the community, or working as a babysitter or nanny. These women are entrepreneurs!