Posted at 11:44 AM
More and more women of color are starting their own businesses at record numbers, particularly African-American and Hispanic women. While that’s encouraging news on the U.S. economic front, it’s no secret that many minority women still face unique challenges navigating the ins and outs of entrepreneurship. The biggest of which include accessing capital and securing significant long-term growth.
The Democratic Women’s Working Group (DWWG) held a symposium Sept. 13 called “Creating the Conditions for Minority Women Entrepreneurs to Succeed.” The event was designed to not only discuss these specific challenges, but to seek insight and action from the federal government, community organizations and minority business enterprises (MBEs). The Minority Business Development Agency, Office of Business Development Chief Joann Hill served as a panelist during the symposium.
DWWG advocates for minority, women and small business owners to receive equal access to technical assistance and financial services in order to start or grow their businesses successfully and create jobs.
The panelists and audience members candidly discussed the various challenges facing minority women entrepreneurs and viable solutions to overcome them.
Hill encouraged women minority entrepreneurs, particularly those seeking capital, to create a personal board of advisors. “Having a board of advisors and mentors is critical. This is a group of people with professional expertise that you have at your fingertips, who have access to people of influence and relationships ideally in the banking industry as well as the venture capital industry,” Hill said.
Hill also shared information on the national network of MBDA Business Centers and their business development expertise that provides greater access to contracts, capital and markets for MBE firms.
The symposium, hosted by DWWG Vice-Chair Congresswoman Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14), featured seven panelists; Anistia Phiaria Thomas, Chief Operating Officer for D-LIFE and Phiaria Insurance Group, Nicole Quiroga, President and CEO, Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Kimberly Corbin, Chief Financial Officer, Greater Washington Urban League, Kimberly Blackwell, CEO PMM Agency, Dr. Margaret Wood, PMP President and CEO of WOOD Consulting Services, Inc, U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Natalie Cofield, Founder and CEO, Walker's Legacy. Rep. Lois Frankel (FL-22), Rep. Jackie Speier (CA-14) and Rep. Joyce Beatty (OH-3) provided remarks during the event.
“Women now own some 30% of all businesses in the U.S. accounting for 9. 4 million firms. And African-American women control 14% of these companies or an estimated 1. 3 million businesses,” said Congressman Brenda Lawrence. “Despite these numbers minority female entrepreneurs start their ventures with less funding than men, receive less money from private investors and have lack of access to capital and peer and mentorship networks,” Lawrence said. “We need to create an environment where minority women are encouraged to grow their businesses which generate jobs and economic security in their communities.”
Other solutions shared by panelists included more educational outreach to youth and minority business owners, providing more digital and community based training opportunities, peer mentorship, more policy and legislation to support the advancement of minority women entrepreneurs, partnerships within the banking industry to facilitate access to capital and more hands-on coaching to guide entrepreneurs through the process of starting and sustaining their businesses.
Panelists and attendees also discussed the 2016 report issued by the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce highlighting the disparity between the number of women business owners in America and their business revenues. The report was compiled using data from the 2012 U.S. Census Survey of Business Owners.
To view the report and its findings visit http://uswcc.org/wake-up-call/