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11 mins read

Black Women Entrepreneurs: The Good And Not-So-Good News

Dell Gines, the author of an intriguing new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Black Women Business StartUps, loves this quote attributed to Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn: “An entrepreneur is someone who will jump off a cliff and assemble an airplane on the way down.” But for black women entrepreneurs, Gines quickly adds, “they do it with only a toothpick and a napkin.” What he means is that black women entrepreneurs typically lack the resources and capital to launch, yet take-off they do — in droves.

According to The 2018 State of Women-Owned Business Reportcommissioned by American Express, while the number of women-owned businesses grew an impressive 58% from 2007 to 2018, the number of firms owned by black women grew by a stunning 164%, nearly three times that rate. There are 2.4 million African American women-owned businesses in 2018, most owned by women 35 to 54. Black women are the only racial or ethnic group with more business ownership than their male peers, according to the Federal Reserve.

Black Women Entrepreneurs: The Revenue Lag

But not everything about black women entrepreneurs is so rosy. Running a business brings challenges like knowing about new things like a credit note and how it differs from a refund. However, that is just the tip of the iceberg.

American Express found that the gap is widening between the average revenue for businesses owned by women of color and those owned by non-minority women. For women of color, average revenue dropped from $84,000 in 2007 to $66,400 in 2018, while for non-minority businesses, revenue rose from $181,000 to $212,300. And the gap between African American women-owned businesses’ average revenue and all women-owned businesses, Amex found, is the greatest.

What’s more, a catalyst for making the leap into entrepreneurship, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City report said, “often was poor treatment and the perception of being undervalued in the workplace.” The Amex report echoed this, noting that “higher unemployment rates, long-term unemployment and a much greater gender and racial pay gap have led women of color to start businesses at a higher rate out of necessity and the need to survive.”

“It’s pretty evident that one of the primary reasons for black women to start businesses is frustrations on the job,” Gines told me. “They feel they can’t get anywhere. We have been to seven cities doing the outreach and talked to a lot of black women. There’s a feeling of being passed over for promotions, a sense of workplace fatigue, of being asked to train people to be their boss.”

What’s also evident, according to Gines: “The businesses tend to stay very small, and you don’t see a lot of scalability.”

On average, annual sales at businesses owned by black women are two times smaller than the next-lowest demographic group, Hispanic women, and close to five times smaller than for all women-owned businesses, according to the Federal Reserve. The average annual sales for businesses owned by black women was $27,752 in 2012 (the most recent figures available), compared to $143,731 for all women and $170,587 for white women.

Gines said those figures are unlikely to have shifted dramatically since 2012. “The gap persists at about the same level,” he said.

Why So Many of the Businesses Are Micro

One reason so many of the businesses are micro is that many black women have difficulty accessing credit and face capital constraints, according to the Federal Reserve. That makes it hard to get the necessary funding to grow. And when black women try to borrow with lower income and lower wealth, “these factors make going for a loan that much more difficult,” Gines said.

As a result, black women entrepreneurs tend to tap personal savings, and, all too frequently, retirement accounts, according to BC Clark, director of business development at the Nebraska Enterprise Fund, a nonprofit based in Omaha that works with many black women business owners.

“We definitely do not want them to do that because it took years to build and they might not get that money back,” Clark told me. That’s why the Nebraska Enterprise Fund puts on workshops to teach things like borrowing basics, how to write a business plan, creating a mission statement and managing risk.

Starting As Side Businesses

For many black women business owners, the tiny size of their firms is intentional, regardless of the dearth of capital available from lenders. That’s partly because they’re often launched as side businesses out of financial necessity. Most black women entrepreneurs work part-time in their businesses, less than 39 hours a week, according to the Federal Reserve report.

“Many black women founders may be single parents and need to have this dual income to support the household needs,” said Gines.

Using a startup as a second income stream initially can lead to positive results over the long haul. “It can mitigate the risk,” Gines said. “Because the women are taking care of their families, they need to have a level of confidence before they can make that jump completely. Woman who are responsible for the household tend to keep the size of businesses artificially low because they’re risk averse, need health insurance from a primary employer and want to make sure everything is absolutely appropriate before taking the jump.”

A Lack of Resources and Mentors

Another factor that slows growth: a lack of educational resources and mentors to help black women entrepreneurs ramp up their business knowledge. If you’re a woman looking to start your own business, check out these useful links for women-owned businesses. There are loads of other things that you can do to make sure that your business is successful though. It all depends on much effort you are willing to put in. Obviously you want your business to be as successful as possible. Which is why it might be a good idea to check out something like this Human resources consulting to make sure that you can make the most out of your business.

While there are SCORE programs (retired business professionals offering free advice to startup founders) in every major city, many black women cite a lack of mentors who understand their businesses and business models or feel they can’t connect culturally with the ones they meet, Gines said.

Two dominant entrepreneurial characteristics expressed by many black women business owners who participated in the 2017 focus groups conducted by the Federal Reserve of Kansas City were determination and self-learning. “Self-learning was a key characteristic that allowed many to start and grow a company in an environment with limited access to formal business knowledge and training,” according to Gines.

Frequently, black women “don’t know who to go to, where to go and what organizations are out there that can support them,” Gines said. This is one reason, he added, that “you see a lot of clustering in very few industries with a low barrier to entry — service businesses such as hair salons, catering, child day care centers and consulting.”

The Optimistic Outlook

But Gines anticipates promising change coming.

“You are going to see a rise in black women doing business in professional services with the rapid increase in education levels for black women and their increased participation in the labor market, in fields such as accounting and engineering,” he said.

Where to Get Advice

Both Gines and Clark advise black women entrepreneurs to look for know-how through a local chamber of commerce, the Small Business Association’s Women Business Centers and women’s business owner associations. Also, they say, take courses on entrepreneurship at a local community college.

It might make sense, too, to get certified as minority-owned and as a women’s business on the federal, state and city level, Clark said.

One parting thought: Faith and religious belief have also been important characteristics of many of the black women business owners who spoke with Gines. “They used their faith as both as a source of motivation and a tool to support resiliency during difficult times,” he said.

Amen to that.

Source: FORBES

Feature image: Shawntera Hardy and Camille Thomas, co-founders of Fearless Commerce magazine. ( Credit: Andrea Ellen Reed)

3 mins read

Black Owned Nutritional Supplements Company Vows To Help Black Communities Live Healthier

Naturade is a manufacturer and marketer of nutritional supplements.  The company was originally founded in 1926, and was acquired by Kareem Cook and Claude Tellis in 2012.

nutritional supplements
Kareem Cook and Claude Tellis

The duo first meet in college at Duke University and later reconnected after attending business school. They made the move to California together and began spreading healthy ideas across the area.

Growing up on the east coast both Kareem and Claude believed that everyone on the west coast, and California in particular were extremely healthy and fit.

They were shocked to see first hand the rate of childhood obesity in the Los Angeles area. They decided to help reduce that number. This is where their journey to spread health and wellness began.

They started a healthy vending company in LA. and were responsible for getting junk food banned in LA schools. They even convinced the whole the state of California to ban junk foods.

nutritional supplements

The pair put the first healthy vending machine in LA and acquired the contract for all of the public schools in Los Angeles.

While banning junk foods in schools across LA is a large accomplishment the men were unsatisfied. They wanted a larger platform to help African Americans prevent common illnesses that plague the community.Both Kareem and Claude’s families and many African Americans across the country suffer from hypertension and diabetes, illnesses that can be prevented or managed largely based on diet.

This passion lead them to develop a business plan to prevent illnesses like diabetes. Their plan involved the purchase of Naturade.

Once Kareem and Claude purchased Naturade, their efforts to educate the African American community on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle began in earnest.

They were introduced to people who shared similar viewpoints, including John Lewis. Kareem and Claude paired up with John Lewis to create VeganSmart, a plant based protein powder.

John Lewis, Vegan Smart

The pair has made strides to spread health and wellness among the African American community, as well as americans across the country.

Kareem Cook and Claude Tellis plan to continue sharing their passion for living healthy plant-based lifestyles with the African American community.


Learn more about Naturade on their website.



12 mins read

20 Young African Influencers in the Diaspora

It goes without saying but i’ll say it anyway – Continental African’s get our shine on wherever we go. In almost every industry, the bylines of the world’s emerging leaders are looking like a young continental African “Who’s Who”. Here’s a look at a group of young African influencers who deserve kudos and a slow clap for their accomplishments. We see you and we’re excited about what’s to come. It is never an easy process to become an influencer in any form. Social media influencers have become very popular in recent times and the goal of many young people. The secret could be that Social media influencers buy Instagram likes at Buzzoid.


Young African Influencers in the Diaspora

Rahiel Tesfamariam is a native of Eritrea who was raised in Washington D.C. She is a social activist, public theologian, writer and international speaker. She is the brains behind #NotOneDime a nationwide economic boycott launched in the aftermath of the Ferguson non-indictment decision. Rahiel is also the founder and publisher of Urban Cusp, a cutting-edge online lifestyle magazine highlighting progressive urban culture, faith, social change and global awareness.

Young African Influencers

Chef Rougui Dia, “The African Queen of Parisian Cuisine” was born in Paris to Senegalese parents. While serving as Executive Chef at Le 144, a restaurant affiliated with Paris’ posh art deco venue and restaurant, Petrossian, Dia became one of the most respected female chefs in France. She later presided over the kitchen at Le Vraymonde, an upscale restaurant located in Paris’ Buddha-Bar Hotel.


Angelica Nwandu is a Sundance Screenwriter Fellow and the creator of The Shade Room, the first blog to publish directly to Instagram. She was recently named one of Forbes 30 under 30. Since its start in early 2014, The Shade Room has grown into a lucrative enterprise. The site currently has four million followers and reportedly pulls in hundreds of thousands of followers each month.

Young African Influencers

Adewale “Wally” Adeyemoa is a Nigerian-American who grew up in Southern California. In December 2015, President Barack Obama appointed him as his Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs. In a statement released by the White House, President Obama remarked, “I will be calling on Wally’s intellect, judgment and dedication as we sustain America’s global economic leadership, which reinforces our national security, and as we work with allies and partners around the world to create jobs and opportunity for all our people.”

Young African Influencers

Luvvie Ajayi was born in Nigeria and moved to the U.S. when she was nine. She is the creator of Awesomely Luvvie, a popular entertainment and humor blog that covers everything pop culture. Last year, she was named a 2015 Black Innovator by XFINITY Comcast. With over a decade of experience, you could say that she’s an O.G. in the blogging game. Her first book, titled, I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do Better Manual, was released in September and quickly became a New York Times bestseller.

Young African Influencers

In January 2015, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser appointed Mamadou Samba to serve as the Director of the Mayor’s Office of African Affairs. Originally from Dakar, Mamadou is passionate about addressing the challenges faced by African immigrants in the District and nationwide. He has played a significant role in securing grants for African nonprofit organizations and highlighting issues impacting African-born residents in the United States.

Young African Influencers

Nina Oduro grew up in Ghana and moved to Virginia at the age of seven, She is the founder of, an online platform that connects organizations and professionals who are focused on Africa’s growth and development. Her company offers employment opportunities and career advancement resources. Nina is also the co-founder of Dine Diaspora, a lifestyle and events company that creates dynamic experiences around food, culture, and heritage.

Young African Influencers

A native of Rwanda, Jackson Mvunganyi is a Radio host and new media reporter at Voice of America. In 2007 VOA’s launched a youth-oriented talk show, Upront Africa. It became the first cross continental radio show reaching millions of students and young professionals around Africa and beyond. His more than 17,000 Twitter followers include President Obama.

Young African Influencers

Zim Ugochukwu is the Founder & CEO of Travel Noire, a digital platform that has become one of the most popular resources for Black travelers. She was recently listed on Forbes 2016 ’30 Under 30’ list as of the brightest young entrepreneurs. Thanks to Zim, it is now obvious to those that didn’t know – Black people love to get their travel on!

Young African Influencers

Rediate Tekeste is a first generation Ethiopian-American and founder of the Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship (EDF). This Los Angeles-based fellowship program connects young Ethiopians in the diaspora with their home country and provides them with the opportunity to be part of the country’s development through practical work experience.

young african influencers

Samuel Bazawule, known by the stage name Blitz the Ambassador, is a Ghanaian-American hip-hop artist, composer, producer and visual artist based in Brooklyn. He was recently named TED Fellow, Blitz combines the political boldness of Public Enemy, and the groove sense of Fela Kuti. His label, Embassy MVMT, is proving that Hip Hop fans are tired of the same old radio playlists and are hungry for music that is more creative and thoughtful.


Mariéme Jamme is a Senegalese-born businesswoman based in the U.K. Her company, Spotone Global Solutions helps technology companies develop business in new markets such as Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Mariéme is also an international speaker and co-founder of Africa Gathering, the first global platform bringing together entrepreneurs and others to share ideas about development in Africa. She was named by the World Economic Forum as one of its Young Global Leaders for 2013.

Young African Influencers

Ugandan fashion model, Aamito Lagum, — a former Top Model winner, is more recently known for the controversy caused by racist comments about her lips that were posted on MAC cosmetics Instagram page. Aamito boldly took to the internet in defense of her beauty, and the beauty of other women with similar features. This prompted campaigns like #PrettyLipsPeriod (created by Dr. Yaba Blay and Thembisa Mshaka) where Black women around the world unapologetically celebrate their full lips.

young african influencers

Yinka Ilori is a U.K based designer. He is passionately against the unnecessary waste he has seen in European and West African consumer cultures. His craft and vision is collecting discarded furniture, and re-upholstering and designing into something new. Yinka is inspired by the traditional Nigerian parables and African fabrics that surrounded him as child.


Folasade Adeoso is a New York-based, Nigerian-born, model and digital artist. She’s the chief editor and writer behind the lifestyle blog, LoveFola and the owner of the online boutique, “1953 | THE COLLECTIONS”. Folasade is known for her digital collages, which mix archival and contemporary images into Dalí-esque visions.

young african influencers

Chef Djibril Bodian is a second-generation baker of Senegalese origin. Last year he won first prize in the Grand Prix de la Baguette de Tradition Française de la Ville de Paris, a.k.a. The Best Baguette in Paris Competition. Chef Djibril also won the top prize five years ago. This prestigious award allowed him to be the only baguette supplier to French President Holland at the Elysées Palace. The fame and publicity didn’t hurt his pockets either. He can be found creating baked goodness at ‘Grenier à Pain’ in Montmartre.

young african influencers

Heben Nigatu was born in Ethiopia and moved to the U.S. when she was five. The Columbia grad is a senior editor at Buzzfeed and co-host of “Another Round”, Buzzfeed’s most successful podcast. Heben was recently ranked #17 on Forbe’s 30 Under 30 in media. The podcast, (an iTunes’ podcast top 100) gets hundreds of thousands of listeners a month and touches on topics that range from race and politics to pop culture and favorite alcoholic drinks.


Bouba Dola was born in Kinshasa, Congo. His family moved to the Netherlands when he was a child. He studied at HKU in Utrecht and has been working throughout the Netherlands, specifically between Amsterdam and Rotterdam. He focuses his creative energy on the infusion of digital art – drawings, music and videos. His collaboration with young Black Dutch hip hop artists has helped to jump start many of their careers. His sound is reminiscent of the Los Angeles music of Flying Lotus but with elements of ancient Kikongo vibrations and patterns. Currently, Bouba is working on his first cinematic work.


Saran Kaba Jones is a clean water advocate and social entrepreneur from Liberia. She is the founder of Face Africa, a U.S.-based non-profit organization that provides access to clean drinking water in Liberia’s rural communities, where running water and sewage infrastructure is often scarce. Face Africa was launched in 2009, and has provided clean water to thousands of rural Liberians. Saran was named by the World Economic Forum as one of its Young Global Leaders for 2013.


Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson