Women’s History Month may be over but there’s one thing we can’t deny. Women all over the world, specifically minority women, are taking the world by storm in more ways than one.
Though we still face challenges, such as equal pay for equal work, it hasn’t hindered us from dominating in politics, education, sciences, law enforcement, and even entrepreneurship.
Over the past several decades, women have broken glass ceilings, taken their rightful place in seats of power, gained independence, and continue to make incredible contributions to all sectors of this nation and the world, particularly in business and entrepreneurship.
In fact, there are more women starting businesses now than ever before. According to the American Express State of Women-owned Business Report, the number of women-owned businesses has increased 74 percent, 1 ½ times the national average of only 51 percent, since 1997.
This growth has been seen in nearly every sector of the economy, including health care and social assistance, social and educational services, professional and technical services, administrative support, retail and more. These studies also show the fastest growth in women-owned businesses is among women of color, specifically African Americans.
To some, these statistics are simply numbers on a page. But to others, these numbers translate into real-life experiences, where individual women can see their stories among the data.
The Life of an Entrepreneur
Kakela Hall is no stranger to hard work but is new to the entrepreneur life.
“I always knew I had the spirit of a trendsetter and I always colored outside the lines [for] as long as I can remember,” Hall says. “However, in 2012, I became certain I had to own my own business and do good work in the community that would help people.”
As CEO and Co-founder of K.D.Hall Communications and the K.D.Hall Foundation, Kela has made the transition from the corporate sector to running her own business with her husband and business partner David E Hall. However, it was Kela’s past working experiences and early collegiate projects that were pivotal in the development of her drive to be a trendsetter and ultimately go into business for herself.
“Our non–profit is a piggyback off of my women’s organization in college that was about empowerment, laws to support women in the workforce and fair wages,” she says.
Building an Empire
There are various factors that have contributed in the rise of women–owned businesses in general, but also specifically within the African American community. One important factor to note is education.
Since 1999, African American women have earned over 60 percent of all degrees awarded to African American students. It is no mistake that as more degrees are being earned, more businesses are being created.
With 5 years under her belt, Erica has moved into the expansion phase of her self-owned business.
“I’m building my mini empire,” she says. “I am venturing into web design for small businesses. I am [also] marrying my talent as a photographer and graphic design. I now create simple mobile-friendly websites for small businesses that have no web presence. I manage their websites so they can manage their business.”
While most women-owned firms remain small in terms of employment, it should be pointed out that the number of women-owned employer firms (which now numbers over one million) has increased by 13% between 2002 and 2012, while overall the number of U.S. employer firms has declined by 1.8% over the same period.”
So who really runs the world? In the world of entrepreneurs, it would seem that African American women specifically, but women in general, are the leading forces these days. The influences of women in business will only continue to expand as the data has shown.
Beyond the month of March, all year long, we honor Icons such as Michele Obama, Melinda Gates, Loretta Lynch, and the millions of local business women that are transforming our economy.
Have you ever thought about starting your own business? Share your thoughts below.