Black women catch start-up fever

In the African-American community, women-owned businesses now outnumber men's.

Published August 24, 2006 11:30PM (EDT)

A report published last week by the Small Business Administration suggests that women are driving the growth in black entrepreneurship, according to USA Today. The number of businesses owned by black women has grown exponentially in the last decade and studies suggest that black women now own more businesses than black men.

As Angela Burt-Murray, editor in chief of Essence, tells USA Today, it just may be "a huge opportunity," if only as a way to avoid the unpleasantries that women often face in big business. Camille Young, who started her own chain of juice bars in New Jersey, spent years in big business but always felt added pressure as a black woman to perform: "You must work harder just to be viewed as average," she said.

But while black women may now own more companies than black men, the USA Today piece rashly calls it "a trend that's tipping the balance of economic power in the black community." What about the less-cheery finding that black women's business ventures actually pull in much less revenue on average than do black men's ($39,000 compared to $114,000)?

Ultimately it boils down to this no-brainer: black women are attracted to self-employment for the same reasons women in general are. That often-present corporate glass ceiling is only tolerable for so long, and self-employment allows flexibility for women who need to care for ailing elder parents and for mothers who are juggling work and childcare. So, sure, let's celebrate! Successes are always relative, aren't they?

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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