Survey: Birth Control, Reproductive Rights Key To Black Women Entrepreneurs’ Success

The number of black female-owned businesses rose nearly 67% to 1.5 million in 2012 from 900,000 in 2007, the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show. Further, the 1.5 million figure made up 58.9% of the nation’s 2.6 million black or African American-owned businesses. The growth rate for black-women businesses has grown faster than other segments.

For instance, women nationally owned 35.8% or 9.9 million of all firms in 2012.

But the ability of small businesses owned by women of color to boost revenue and keep growing is being endangered on the contraceptive front.

A new poll by the advocacy group Small Business Majority revealed that 65% of African American and 64% of Latina small business owners say access to birth control, and the freedom to decide if and when to have children, has impacted their bottom lines as a business owner.

Some 507 female entrepreneurs were surveyed. The poll offers more perspective on the importance of birth control for women entrepreneurs of color than one done in November 2017.

The latest poll found most African American and Latina women say access to contraceptives helped them advance their education, whereas only half of the white women entrepreneurs say that, notes Simon Brown, a spokesman for the Small Business Majority.

Moreover, the poll is a big deal because the results show women of color who own small businesses say access to birth control is important to their economic success.

“For most small business owners, our business and personal finances are tied closely together,” says Vernita Naylor, founder/owner of Jabez Enterprise Group, a black-owned supplier diversity firm in Oakland, California.

“As a solo entrepreneur, I don’t have the luxury of handing off work to a co-owner or employees if I need time away from the business. As a result, without access to birth control, I would be forced to decide between my family and investing in my business.”

She added women of color are already behind their white peers when it comes to obtaining loans, commercial insurance, leasing space and other business resources. When those barriers are linked to no access to birth control, they add another layer of obstacles those entrepreneurs face.

“Having control over our reproductive options will allow us to plot our course as entrepreneurs for the future,” Naylor says. “Without those benefits, that directly affects our bottom line and greatly impacts whether we can grow and sustain our businesses.”

With a clientele that includes entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 companies and, government agencies, Naylor’s firm recently was named one of the nation’s Top 100 Pioneering Small Businesses by the Small Business Majority.  She was invited to the White House to speak to Congress about how federal policies affect small firms.

A recent decision by the Trump administration eliminated birth control coverage offered under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

With Trump’s repeal, public and private employers can cite religious or moral objections to refuse birth control via their insurance plans. Female employees may now have to spend their own money to cover some or all contraceptive costs.

Naylor says birth control can assist with health issues that women face from cycle regulations to blood flow control and help minimize fibroids and other endometrial diseases that predominately affect black women. “In order to succeed, we must continue the journey as small business owners with the support from Congress, government and elected officials.”

Other key findings from the poll:

-Women of color who own small businesses feel strongly that access to birth control has allowed them to advance their career (71% of African American women and 69% of Latinas agree)

-Some 62% of younger business owners and 56% of all respondents agree their ability to access birth control and to decide if and when to have children allowed them to advance in their career and start their business

-52% agree that such access impacts their ability to grow their business.