At the beginning of the pandemic, between February and April 2020, Black business ownership in the US suffered a dramatic drop of more than 40 percent. According to a report from the House committee on small businesses, this was the largest drop experienced by any racial or ethnic group.
Then, when the government began to offer financial support to businesses, Black business owners received fewer small business grants than their white counterparts. As reported by The Guardian, pay-check protection program funds only reached 29 percent of Black applicants but reached 60 percent of white applicants.
However, despite these disadvantages, new research from Robert W. Fairlie, an economist from the University of California Santa Cruz, Black business ownership has experienced a boost from pre-pandemic levels of almost 30 percent. And a big contributor to this boost? Black female entrepreneurs.
“At a time when folks are rethinking their lives and choices, it is not surprising that more Black women are electing to become CEOs of their own companies rather than waiting for their intelligence and skills to be recognized at their current firms,” says Melissa Bradley, founder of 1863 Ventures, an agency for Black and brown entrepreneurs.
The pandemic has also given rise to a new level of job insecurity. People were forced to explore alternative options, which includes starting a business of their own, and many were also given the opportunity to consider whether they wanted to remain in employment with inadequate pay, lack of childcare options, and instances of workplace discrimination.
“If you start your own business, some of these obstacles may not be as acute as if you were relying on employment from someone else,” says Wells Fargo chief economist, Jay H. Bryson.
Whatever the case may be, the pandemic has certainly resulted in a unique environment allowing women of color to act on their desire to take more control over their work life; the emergence of female Black business owners and the continued leveling of the entrepreneurial playing field reflects this.