The Counter-Narrative to Why Women of Color are Starting Our Own Businesses
Recently, in different media outlets like Fast Company, Forbes, etc. I have seen articles praising Women of Color for Starting their own businesses at an exceptionally high rate. In fact, we are becoming the largest increasing number of entrepreneurs in the world. This sounds like a great achievement, but there is a narrative missing, actually a counternarrative. Now, before I go into my speel, don’t get me wrong, I in no way shape or form mean to detour from the fact that we are badasses rising in the face of injustice to make the world a more equitable place. This article is not a detourance from the badassery that exist. BUT, here are some of the contributors to why women of Color (racially stigmatized identities) are starting their own businesses:
- To fight for and create an equitable life in a society that does not prioritize the issue as much as it should.
- We are underpaid, under promoted, under rewarded in general, and often not given credit for our contributions to improving productivity in the workplace. Yes, diversity improves your company’s production rate, but does it improve our quality of professional living in your company?
- We are often over mentored with no results, we are dedicating a ton of time to listening and acting upon the words of our mentors, and the results aren’t matching the effort. We don’t always need mentoring we don’t always need to hear another “how to” we need more spaces to show what we know in a nondiscriminatory way and without consequence!
- We are fucking exhausted and just want to work in a safe place where we don’t have to worry about you trying to touch our damn hair without our permission and the rest of your daily microaggressions.
- We see our communities struggling and we are here to solve the problem. To know a problem is one thing, but to solve it is another. We are here for it!
The other thing I want to highlight is that while we are starting businesses at substantial rates, we are also underfunded in the VC world and often under supported by consumers, even within our own communities. Women of Color account for less than 2% of funding in the startup world, and financial support is required for sustainability. You have to understand that our businesses do not thrive alone on our ability to fund them which is usually limited within the genesis of the business. We need our consumers, ecosystem, and government to take the necessary actions to make sure our businesses are sustainable. And remember you can’t do that without knowing the challenges we face, especially intersectionality (disability, socioeconomic status, parental status, age, etc.) in our journeys to self build better means to improve the quality of our lives and our communities.
- There has to be better policies and tax breaks to support small business owners, especially those of us who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
- Consumers must prioritize their spending to support local businesses, #SpendLikeIt Matters by Intentionalist is a great example of this, lead by CEO Laura Clise’s company!
- Business academic programs and certifications have to do a better job of targeting underrepresented, underfunded, underestimated, and overlooked populations and through your programs, prepare them for the challenges of running a business.
There is so much more to list here, but I will stop there. We have so much work to do in this space, and apparently women of Color (racially stigmatized identities) are rising to the challenge. We need support systems to rise with us and help hold us up on this journey. We are out here working and we need you (broader society) to do the same for us.