Why Black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs
Jennifer Walton had two “great resignations.”
After rising to the level of associate vice president of marketing for the Nationwide Retirement Institute, she resigned in 2021 to find greater impact in her work.
She moved to the public sector, working as the director of marketing for Central Ohio Transit Authority. But she said she felt “handcuffed” in her ability to effect change in customers’ lives.
After some soul-searching, she decided to “bet on herself” and start her own company, SKY Nile Consulting, which offers marketing and brand strategy, as well as guidance on diversity, equity and inclusion.
“I wanted flexibility in my life,” said Walton, 38, of Olde Towne East.
“I wanted to maximize my earning potential. I wanted to maximize my talent. And I wanted my values to align with my work. And I knew that if I needed to check those four boxes, I could only get it for myself.”
Black women starting own businesses seek greater freedom, fulfillment
Walton’s experience reflects a larger trend of Black women leaving corporate America, accelerated by the pandemic. As the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs, Black women say they are seeking more freedom, opportunity, fulfillment and stability. They also are escaping from discrimination and other barriers in the workplace.
Women-owned businesses overall increased 21% between 2014 and 2019, compared to 9% for all businesses, according to the State of Women-Owned Business Report by American Express.
Companies owned by women of color grew even faster at 43%.
But Black women-owned business outpaced them all at 50%.
While Black women represent 14% of the female population, they account for 42% of net new women-owned businesses.
Furthermore, a Harvard Business Review report found that 17% of Black women are in the process of starting or are running new businesses, compared to 10% of white women and 15% of white men.
Deonna Barnett said she has seen an increase in Black women clients at her firm, Aventi Enterprises, which helps small businesses grow.
“They’re leaving (their jobs) because they can make more money doing it themselves,” said Barnett, the company’s CEO and managing consultant. “And some of them can stay home, which is helpful for caretakers and parents.”