Minority entrepreneurship in twenty-first century America

Abstract

Prior to the 1970s, minority-owned small businesses were small in size and scope, and common in only a few industry niches. Business owners were severely capital-constrained, lacking in higher education, and training in skilled occupations. The median owner today, in contrast, is college educated, access to financing has expanded, and opportunities to serve corporate and public-sector clients are commonplace. Nearly 40% of all new firms created nationwide in 2015 were minority owned. Changing attitudes in mainstream society reduced traditional barriers. True equality of opportunity among small minority- and white-owned firms of similar size and scope has nonetheless not been achieved. This issue of Small Business Economics examines lingering barriers impeding the development of a more vibrant minority business community. Focusing on access to financing and government procurement markets, articles in this issue offer explicit analyses of enduring barriers, along with explanations of adoptive strategic firm behavior appropriate for reducing those barriers.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Pew Research Center projects that non-Hispanic whites will cease to be the majority group by 2055, and reports that the Census Bureau project this will occur by 2044. Pew also reports that over half of all children age five and under living in the USA are minorities. See: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/06/23/its-official-minority-babies-are-the-majority-among-the-nations-infants-but-only-just/

  2. 2.

    Our minority entrepreneurship special issue focuses solely on firms operating in the USA. The unique challenges facing minorities pursuing entrepreneurial alternatives arise in specific social, political, historical, economic contexts, contexts that differ from nation to nation.

  3. 3.

    Studies of Hispanic-owned businesses are notable for their rarity. The fact that U.S. Census Bureau databases inconsistently defined—and repeatedly redefined—“Hispanic” over past decades has not helped matters.

  4. 4.

    A complicating factor is that Asian-owned firms are overwhelmingly immigrant-owned, and the children of the self employed, unlike their Latino and black counterparts, are averse to pursuing business ownership.

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Bates, T., Bradford, W.D. & Seamans, R. Minority entrepreneurship in twenty-first century America. Small Bus Econ 50, 415–427 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11187-017-9883-5

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Keywords

  • Minority-owned firms
  • Racial discrimination
  • Discrimination in financial markets
  • Overcoming discriminatory barriers

JEL codes

  • G21
  • J16
  • L2
  • L26