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Racial & Gender Gap in Entrepreneurship

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

While playing Inequality-opoly you just landed on the entrepreneurship space, now you have to roll the dice. There are three simple options based on what number you roll:

  1. You don't own a business.

  2. You own a business and earn a profit from bank.

  3. You own a business but must pay loss to bank.

Seems simple enough but entrepreneurship (as all entrepreneurs know) is much more complex than that even more complex for women and people of color. Let's talk about some of the difficulties you might face.

As you delve into the world of entrepreneurship, it's important to understand the broader context, especially as it pertains to historically marginalized groups, such as women and people of color. This comprehensive guide will explore the definition and importance of entrepreneurship, the historical reasons for low entrepreneurship rates among these groups, their current status in the entrepreneurial landscape, and recommendations for addressing these disparities.

1. Definition and Importance of Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is the process of starting and managing new business ventures. It plays a critical role in driving innovation, economic growth, and job creation. For you, as an aspiring entrepreneur, it represents a pathway to realize your vision, contribute to societal progress, and achieve financial independence. Despite the potential for entrepreneurship to level the playing field, individuals from marginalized backgrounds often face unique challenges. For instance, a Kauffman Foundation report shows that while minority entrepreneurs start businesses at twice the rate of their white counterparts, they often encounter systemic barriers that can impede growth.

  • Economic Growth: Entrepreneurs create 1.5 million jobs annually in the U.S., accounting for 64% of new job creation (U.S. Small Business Administration).

  • Innovation: Small businesses contribute to 16 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms (U.S. Small Business Administration).

  • Social Change: Social enterprises have been growing, with over 50% focused on serving disadvantaged populations (Global Social Entrepreneurship Network).

  • Personal Empowerment: 62% of U.S. billionaires are self-made entrepreneurs (Forbes).

2. Historical Reasons for Low Entrepreneurship for Women and People of Color

The entrepreneurial journey for women and people of color is steeped in a history of systemic barriers. Racial segregation laws, such as Jim Crow, historically restricted the economic activities of Black Americans, limiting their access to resources and markets. The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 exemplifies how Black entrepreneurship was not only discouraged but violently suppressed. Women, too, faced legal and societal hurdles; up until the 1980s, many states required women to have a male relative co-sign business loans. These historical factors have contributed to a lack of generational wealth and resources necessary for entrepreneurship, as highlighted by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

  • Systemic Discrimination: Redlining practices significantly reduced the homeownership rate among African Americans from the 1930s to the 1960s, affecting their ability to accumulate wealth (Brookings Institution).

  • Legal Barriers: Until the 1988 Women's Business Ownership Act, women needed a male relative to co-sign business loans (National Association of Women Business Owners).

  • Lack of Access to Networks: Only 6% of Black business owners get their loans approved by national banks compared to 27% of white business owners (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research).

  • Cultural Stereotypes: 40% of people still believe men are better suited emotionally for politics than most women (Pew Research Center).

3. Current Status of Women and People of Color in Entrepreneurship

Today, while there has been progress, significant gaps remain. Women now own 40% of U.S. businesses, generating $1.8 trillion annually, yet they average lower revenues compared to their male counterparts. Minority entrepreneurs face a funding gap, receiving less than 3% of total venture capital funding, as reported by the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Furthermore, Black-owned businesses are twice as likely to be rejected for loans, according to the Federal Reserve. These disparities point to ongoing challenges in access to capital, market opportunities, and resources.

  • Continued Funding Disparities: Black entrepreneurs receive less than 1% of venture capital (Harvard Business Review).

  • Marketplace Discrimination: Minority-owned businesses are 3 times more likely to be declined for bank loans (Minority Business Development Agency).

  • Resource Gap: Women of color represent 39% of the total female population but only 14% of women-owned firms (National Women’s Business Council).

  • Economic Disparities: The median net worth of Black families is $17,150 compared to $171,000 for white families (Federal Reserve).

Black and women-owned businesses often earn significantly less than white-owned businesses, and this disparity is evident in various statistics:

Revenue Disparity for Black-Owned Businesses:

  • According to a report by the Federal Reserve, the median annual revenue for Black-owned businesses was approximately $58,000, compared to about $590,000 for white-owned businesses. This indicates that Black-owned businesses earn roughly 10% of what their white counterparts earn on average.

Revenue Disparity for Women-Owned Businesses:

  • The 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report indicated that women-owned businesses average $142,000 in revenue, compared to $474,000 for all businesses. This suggests that women-owned businesses earn about 30% of what businesses overall (which are predominantly male-owned) earn.

4. Recommendations to Solve This Problem

To effectively address the challenges faced by women and people of color in entrepreneurship, a comprehensive and multifaceted approach is essential. This approach encompasses enhanced financial support, education and mentorship, policy changes and advocacy, networking and community support, and mental health resources. Each of these components is backed by significant statistics that underscore their importance:

Enhanced Financial Support

Need: Minority firms are less likely to receive loans over $100,000 than non-minority firms. This disparity highlights the need for more accessible and equitable financial support (U.S. Department of Commerce).

Solution: Initiatives like the Minority Business Development Agency play a critical role in bridging this gap by providing access to capital. Additionally, financial literacy programs tailored for minority entrepreneurs can help them better navigate financial markets and understand funding mechanisms.

Education and Mentorship

Need: Only 4% of minority-owned businesses reach more than $1 million in annual sales compared to 6% of non-minority businesses, indicating a gap in growth and scalability (U.S. Small Business Administration).

Solution: Providing entrepreneurship and fundraising classes, along with mentorship opportunities, equips entrepreneurs with the skills and guidance needed to grow their businesses successfully. Mentorship, in particular, can offer valuable insights and strategies for scaling and managing a business.

Policy Changes and Advocacy

Need: Minority-owned businesses contribute significantly to the economy, with $1 trillion in economic impact and the creation of 5.9 million jobs (Minority Business Development Agency).

Solution: Advocating for policy changes, such as tax incentives for investing in minority and women-owned businesses, can enhance their growth potential. Fair procurement and contracting processes can also level the playing field, ensuring equal opportunities for all businesses.

Networking and Community Support

Need: Networking is crucial for business growth, and yet, many minority entrepreneurs lack access to robust networks. Studies show that 70% of small businesses that receive mentoring survive more than 5 years, a testament to the power of support and networking (SCORE).

Solution: Inclusive industry events and forums, as well as organizations like the National Association of Women Business Owners, can provide crucial networking opportunities. These platforms can facilitate connections, collaborations, and the sharing of resources and knowledge.

Mental Health Resources

Need: Entrepreneurs are 30% more likely to experience depression than non-entrepreneurs, highlighting the mental health challenges associated with running a business (University of California, San Francisco).

Solution: Providing mental health resources tailored to the unique challenges faced by entrepreneurs from marginalized backgrounds is essential. This support can include counseling services, stress management workshops, and peer support groups, helping entrepreneurs maintain their mental well-being while managing their businesses.

Inequality-opoly Formats Tailored for You

  • Complete Physical Board Game: For an immersive experience, the physical board game has everything you need.

  • Print and Play Set: Ideal for educators and groups, this format allows multiple games to be conducted simultaneously, perfect for larger engagements.

  • Expansion Set: If you already own Monopoly, this set lets you transform it into Inequality-opoly, offering a new perspective using familiar gameplay.

  • In-Person and Virtual Gameplay Sessions: Join the creator of Inequality-opoly for insightful sessions that delve into societal inequalities and offer a shared space for learning and discussion.

Ready to Explore, Learn, and Contribute?

  • Choose the Inequality-opoly format that suits you best and join a movement towards a more equitable world. Discover Inequality-opoly today and see how it transforms your understanding of social inequalities and your ability to address them.

Visit to start your journey and be a part of this important conversation.

Thank you for reading and engaging in this critical discussion.

Extended Bibliography

  1. U.S. Small Business Administration. "Small Business GDP: Update 2002-2010."

  2. Global Social Entrepreneurship Network. "State of Social Enterprise Survey."

  3. Forbes. "The Forbes 400 Self-Made Score: From Silver Spooners To Bootstrappers."

  4. Brookings Institution. "The Devaluation of Assets in Black Neighborhoods."

  5. National Association of Women Business Owners. "History of NAWBO."

  6. Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. "Discrimination in the Small-Business Credit Market."

  7. Pew Research Center. "On Gender Differences, No Consensus on Nature vs. Nurture."

  8. Harvard Business Review. "Why Black Businesses Struggle to Grow."

  9. Minority Business Development Agency. "Disparities in Capital Access between Minority and Non-Minority Businesses."

  10. National Women’s Business Council. "The Economic Impact of Women-Owned Businesses in the United States."

  11. Federal Reserve. "Survey of Consumer Finances."

  12. U.S. Department of Commerce. "Minority Business Development Agency: Annual Performance Report."

  13. SCORE. "The Megaphone of Main Street: Unsung Entrepreneurs."

  14. University of California, San Francisco. "Are Entrepreneurs Touched with Fire?"

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