, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 281–289 | Cite as

Minority women’s microenterprises in rural areas of the United States of America: African American, Hispanic American and Native American case studies

  • Helen Ruth Aspaas


Women in many rural areas of the US often engage in small-scale businesses as one of several avenues for contributing to household incomes. In those geographical areas that contain a significant minority population, many of the women's businesses display the cultural diversity of the regions in which they live. Likewise, women's roles as economic providers as well as wives and mothers are reflected in the manner in which they operate their businesses. Candida Brush suggests that women's strategies for operating their businesses are highly integrative because women's business decisions are intertwined with familial responsibilities, household economic demands and desires to contribute to their communities. Hispanic and Native American women in the Four Corners region of southwestern US and African American women in central Virginia participated in interviews in which they responded to numerous short answer and open-ended questions about their businesses and decision-making strategies. From these interviews an image emerges of rural minority business women who are operating their businesses at the nexus of family obligations, economic necessities, cultural ties and with a commitment for serving their communities.

African Americans Hispanic Americans integrative perspective Native Americans rural minority women small businesses 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abbott M. 2001: Coming of age and overcoming the odds. Aqui en el Valle May: 2, 13.Google Scholar
  2. Aberle D. 1981: Navajo coresidential kin groups and lineages. Journal of Anthropological Research 37(1): 1–7.Google Scholar
  3. Allen-Smith J. 1994: Blacks in rural America: socioeconomic status and policies to enhance economic well-being. Review of Black Political Economy 22: 7–24.Google Scholar
  4. Aspaas H. R. 1997: Women's Home-based Businesses: Utah and Colorado counties provide case studies in rural and small town contexts. Small Town January-February: 32–39.Google Scholar
  5. Aspaas H. R. 2002: Rural Virginia women's small businesses: Ethnicity and linkages. Southeastern Geographer 42(2): 183–210.Google Scholar
  6. Auster E. and Aldrich H. 1984: Small business vulnerability, ethnic enclaves and ethnic Enterprise In: Ward R. and Jenkes R, (eds), Ethnic Communities in Business: Strategies for economic survival, pp. 34–35. Cambridge University Press, London.Google Scholar
  7. Bastow-Shoop H. Leistritz F. Jolly L. Kean R. Gaskill L. Hasper C. and Sternquist B. 1995: Factors a. ecting the nancial viability of rural retail business. The Journal of the Community Develoment Society 26: 169–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Besser T. 1990: Community involvement and the perceptions of success among small business operators in small towns. Journal of Small Business Management 37: 16–29.Google Scholar
  9. Brown B. and Butler J. E. 1995: Competitors as allies: a study of entrepreneurial networks in the U. S. wine industry. Journal of Small Business Management 33(3): 57–66.Google Scholar
  10. Brush C. 1992: Research on women business owners: past trends, a new perspective and future directions. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice Summer: 5–30.Google Scholar
  11. Butler J. S. 1991: Entrepreneurship and Self-Help Among Black Americans. State University of New York Press, Albany.Google Scholar
  12. Caggiano J. 2001: Sweet Quinceanera: hispanic tradition celebrates a girl's coming of age at 15. Richmond Times Dispatch October 21: G5.Google Scholar
  13. Dwyer, D. and Bruce J. (eds). 1988: A Home Divided: Women and incomes in the Third World. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA.Google Scholar
  14. Garcia-Ramon, M. D. and Monk J. (eds). 1996: Women of the European Union: The politics of work and daily life. Routledge, New York.Google Scholar
  15. Gilkes C. T. 1994: 'If it wasn't for the women....': African American women, community work and social change. In: Zinn M. B. and Dill B. T. (eds). Women of Color in U.S. Society, pp. 229–246. Temple University Press, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  16. Gilligan C. 1982: In a Different Voice. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  17. Green G. P. 1994: Is small beautiful?: small business development in rural areas. Journal of the Community Development Society 25(2): 155–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. House B. 2000: Does economic and social capital matter?: an analysis of African American enterprises in Cleveland, Ohio. Western Journal of Black Studies 24(3): 183–199.Google Scholar
  19. Jet 1997 Number of firms owned by minority women grows fastest. July 14: 8, 22Google Scholar
  20. Jordan T. G. 1992: The concept and method. In: Lich G. E. (ed), Regional Studies: The interplay of land and people, pp. 8–24. Texas A & M University Press, College Station, TX.Google Scholar
  21. Katz, C. and Monk J. (eds). 1993: Full Circles: Geographies of Women Over the Life Course. Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  22. Lamphere, L. 1989: Historical and regional variability in Navajo women's roles. Journal of Anthropological Research 45: 431–456.Google Scholar
  23. Marsden T. 1994: Opening the boundaries of the rural experience: progressing critical tensions. Progress in Human Geography 18(4): 523–531.Google Scholar
  24. Marsden T., Lowe P. and Whatmore S. 1992: Labour and Locality: Uneven development and the rural labour process. David Fulton Publishers, London.Google Scholar
  25. McManus B. P. and Knopp J. L. 1998: Virginia's Local Economies, Southside Planning District #13. Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.Google Scholar
  26. Meinig D. W. 1992: The Southwest: Three peoples in geographical change. Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  27. Moser C.O.N. 1987a: Women, human settlements, and housing: a conceptual framework for analysis and policy-making. In: Moser C.O.N. and Peake L. (eds). Women, Human Settlements and Housing, pp. 12–32. Tavistock Publications, London.Google Scholar
  28. Moser C.O.N. 1987b: Mobilization is women's work: Struggles for infrastructure in Guayaquil, Ecuador. In: Moser C.O.N. and Peake L. (eds). Women, Human Settlements and Housing, 166–194. Tavistock Publications, London.Google Scholar
  29. Naples N.A. 1992: Activist mothering: cross-generational continuity in the community work of women from low-income urban neighborhoods. Gender and Society 5: 441–463.Google Scholar
  30. Oberhauser A. 1995: Towards a gendered regional geography: women and work in Appalachia. Growth and Change 26: 217–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sachs C.E. 1996: Gendered Fields: Rural women, agriculture and environment. Westview Press, Boulder, CO.Google Scholar
  32. Small D.B. and Tannenbaum N. (eds). 1999: At the Interface: The household and beyond. University Press of America, Lanham, MD.Google Scholar
  33. Smeltzer L.R. and Fann G.L. 1989: Gender differences in external networks of small business owners/managers. Journal of Small Business Management April: 25–31.Google Scholar
  34. Summers G., Horton F. and Gringeri C. 1990: Rural labour and market changes in the United States. In: Marsden T., Lowe P. and Whatmore S. (eds). Rural Restructuring: Global processes and their responses. Fulton Publishers, London.Google Scholar
  35. Turner T. 1997: Oil workers and oil communities in Africa: Nigerian women and grassroots environmentalists. Labour, Capital and Society 30(1): 66–89.Google Scholar
  36. United States Bureau of the Census. 2000: The U. S. Census, 2000. US Government Printing Office Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  37. United States Department of Labor: Women's Bureau. 1993: Handbook on Women Workers: Trends and issues. U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  38. Walker J.E.K. 1998: The History of Black Business in America: Capitalism, Race, Entrepreneurship. Macmillan Library Reference, New York.Google Scholar
  39. Whatmore S. Lowe P. and Marsden T. (eds). 1994: Gender and Rurality. David Fulton Publishers, London.Google Scholar
  40. Yonkin P.C. and Knopp J.L. 1994: An Economic Profile of Piedmont Planning District. Center for Public Service, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.Google Scholar
  41. Yoon S-Y. 1985: Women and collective self-reliance: south Korea's new community movement. In: Muntemba S. (ed). Rural Development and Women: Lessons from the field. ILO/DANIDA., Geneva.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Ruth Aspaas
    • 1
  1. 1.Urban Studies and Geography Program, School of Government and Public AffairsVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmond

Personalised recommendations