The WOCpreneurs Project
Over the past several years, the digital landscape has opened up a wealth of
opportunities for entrepreneurs. Coaches, artists and brand mavericks have been able to leverage platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube as well as a plethora of new course based platforms like Udemy and Teachable to launch multi-million dollar businesses. Not unlike brick and mortar businesses, many of these are owned and operated by White men. Increasingly though, women of color (WOC) have begun to create niches for themselves to use the digital space as a way to effectively reach and
serve their audience, often creating a level of wealth and independence for themselves they may not have been able to find if they were to rely on the traditional ways of starting a business and looking for investors.
This project will capture the stories of women of color who are operating businesses in the digital space. More than being a CEO, these women have things they want to contribute to their communities, to their families and to the world. Their stories tell much more about what they do than about the products they sell.
Research has shown that women of color are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the US. In fact, a report by American Express claims that for every 10 women-owned businesses launched since 2007, eight were started by women of color. They estimated that if revenues generated by women of color-owned businesses matched those currently generated by other women-owned businesses, they would add $1.1 trillion in revenues and 3.8 million new jobs to the U.S. economy.
A study by Nielson also reported recently that the number of Black women entrepreneurs has grown exponentially over the last decade. They found that that Black women are the majority owners of more than 1.5 million businesses with more than $42 billion in sales.
Here are a few sources that tease out this data.
2017 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report (American Express)
A Web of opportunity or the same old story? Women digital entrepreneurs and intersectionality theory. (Sage Journals. Volume: 70 issue: 3, page(s): 286-311)
It’s Embarrassing How Few Black Female Founders Get Funded (Wired Magazine)
Where are all these women of color entrepreneurs? Frustrated by the lack of visibility, Arielle Hale decided to do something about it. She collected information about WOC and created a directory for women to network and share resources. An impressive list of close to 600 women, this is still but a fraction of what exists.
There are definitely tensions emerging in the digital space specifically about race and entrepreneurs relationship to it. Here are some of the articles that have written about the raging debates happening in this area on the interwebs.
On White Leaders Who Dehumanize Black People by Sara Haile-Mariam
Spiritual Bypassing and White Fragility, By the Playbook by Camille Williams