Making Strides, But Losing Ground ?

Black, woman-owned firms growing, but at a slower pace than other groups

Female minority-owned businesses are growing at a greater rate than all women-owned firms and the national average for all U.S. firms, according to a report issued in December 2001 by the Center for Women’s Business Research in Washington, D.C.

The Center projected that, by March 2002, there will be an estimated 1.2 million minority female-owned businesses in the U.S. (defined as at least 51% female owned), employing more than 822,000 people, and generating $100.6 billion in sales. Between March 1997 and March 2002, the Center estimated that the number of privately held firms at least 51% owned by minority women grew by 31.5% vs. 14.3% for women-owned firms, 29.7% among minority-owned firms, and 6.8% among all U.S. firms.

“Women are advancing in American culture,” says Julie R. Weeks, director of research at the Center. “We have higher levels of education, higher levels of work experience, and entrepreneurship for many is the next logical step.”

Weeks says the 1998 study the Center had published found that African American women were much more likely to start a business by themselves as opposed to having business partners. They were also more likely to start their businesses on a part-time basis while also holding down another job. “African American women appear to be starting in business a little more slowly and I think that’s showing in the growth curve,” Weeks says. “They’re not growing as fast because they’re starting on a part-time basis, and it’s taking them longer to catch-up.”

Businesses owned by minority women represent 20% of all women-owned U.S. firms. More than half (58%) are in the service sector. Industry sectors with some of the greatest growth were transportation/ communications/public utilities (21% collectively), and agriculture (7%).

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