As the world celebrates Women’s History Month, it’s a particularly good time to recognize the economic achievements made by women – especially women of color.
According to a study by American Express, women of color are starting businesses 4.5 times faster than the national average. Firms owned by women of color grew 43 percent in the last five years, and those specifically owned by Black women increased by 50 percent.
Black, woman-owned businesses are opening at a record pace in Detroit. The majority of Motor City Match cash award recipients are Black woman entrepreneurs, and they are opening businesses of every sort – health and beauty, restaurants, consumer goods and professional services.
Researchers offer a variety of theories for the rapidly growing trend, including continued discrimination faced by Black women in the job market, and a demand on Black women to conform to certain workforce norms. Business ownership challenges those constraints and allows Black women to carve their own paths to prosperity.
“The world is opening up to new opportunities for Black women,” said Lashawna Manigault, DEGC’s District 2 Business Liaison and business owner. “Our career options are no longer limited to traditional roles. As entrepreneurs, we can build something that is uniquely ours and begin creating generational wealth for our families. Culturally, Black women have become the heads of households, in some cases the primary breadwinners as well as leaders in our communities. It is a natural progression to becoming a business owner.”
Unfortunately, Black women often face hurdles in starting a business, such as access to capital and real-world experience operating a business. That’s where the DEGC steps in. We provide tools that take entrepreneurs from idea to open. This includes helping entrepreneurs develop a sound business plan, identifying an ideal location, navigating the permitting process, and even making connections with non-traditional lenders.
Motor City Match, now in its fifth year helping grow Detroit’s commercial corridors, has launched 107 brick-and-mortar businesses – over half of which are owned by Black women. MCM recipients and business owners LaShawn Bridges, Blessed Beginnings Learning Center, Dr. Aisha Akpabio, Diamond Smiles Dentistry, Dawn Sanford, Shears & Shaves, and Quiana “Que” Broden, The Kitchen, by Cooking with Que, are strengthening their neighborhoods and catalyzing additional development in surrounding areas. They are modeling success for Detroit’s next generation of entrepreneurs and economic independence for Black women everywhere.
- Bridges, “For over two decades, I’ve been committed to providing a quality learning environment for children. Running a fully-functioning childcare business allows me to share that passion for teaching with many more children and families, positively impacting their growth and education.”
- Akpabio, “Having the opportunity to do what I love in my hometown has always been a dream of mine. It is a blessing to serve my community. I’m committed to providing the highest quality dental care by making patients my number one priority.”
- Sanford, “My passion is cutting hair and connecting with people on a deep level. I’ve been known to use my barber chair to impart wisdom to my clients and encourage them to reach deep into their inner core to pull out the strength and determination needed in life.”
- Broden, “I was born to bring Detroiters back to the dinner table in a healthful way. Now I can do that on a large scale, thanks to the help of so many dedicated people who held my hand and believed in my dream.”