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Power Play

Minority women entrepreneurs thrive in the United States.

Chalk another one up for minority women-owned businesses. According to a recent study by the National Foundation for Women Business Owners (NFWBO), this once-underrated segment of the working population is making fast strides in the business world.

Basing its findings on the most current U.S. Census data available, the NFWBO estimates that today, more than 1 million U.S. businesses are owned by minority women; these firms employ 1.7 million people; and they generate approximately $184 billion in sales. Additionally, the study reports that the number of minority women-owned firms is increasing three times faster than businesses overall.

Why all the recent success? "Some minority women entrepreneurs have been in the corporate world and have hit corporate glass ceilings," explains Cecilia Conrad, senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. "But because they have a sense of their own productivity and have connections, they see themselves as able to go off and start their own businesses."

The study also found the fastest growth industries actually involved nontraditional sectors, such as construction and wholesale trade. According to Conrad, special programs are largely to thank for this diversity. "We have to give some credit to the minority contracting programs that ensure [subcontracting] opportunities," she says. "Those are the particular areas where the government [awards] a lot of contracts."

The future certainly looks bright. Says Conrad, "The more people hear these success stories, the less [they'll doubt] the probability of success for women-owned firms."

Contact Source

National Foundation for Women Business Owners, (310) 495-4975, http://www.nfwbo.org

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This article was originally published in the June 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Power Play.

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