City Year Denver's Third Annual Women's Leadership Breakfast
Carla Harris, chair of the National Women's Business Council Photograph by RJ Sangosti — Denver Post via Getty Images

The fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S.? Minority women.

Aug 21, 2015

It has never been a better time to be a female entrepreneur.

At least that’s what Carla Harris, chair of the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC), believes. “It’s the perfect storm of opportunity,” she says during a press briefing on 2012 data from the Survey of Business Owners.

This “perfect storm” is a combination of, among other forces, historically low interest rates, record amounts of cash in the U.S. economy, a growing presence of women on boards, and the rising numbers of women earning bachelors’ degrees.

“There cannot be a better time for women to start and to scale their businesses,” she says.

This seems especially the case when one examines 2012 Census data (from which the NWBC derives its analysis) on the growth of non-white women-owned businesses. While the number of white women-owned businesses has increased by 10.1% since 2007, the number of companies owned by Asian women has increased by 44.3%; black women-owned businesses have grown by 67.5%; and Hispanic women-owned operations have increased by a whopping 87.5%. Across all ethnicities, however, the number of women-owned firms is increasing faster than the number of men-owned businesses.

Growth in small business owners, 2007 to 2012

White women continue to own the majority of women-owned businesses–61.7% of the total as of 2012. Black and Hispanic women are almost on par with each other, with 15.4% and 14.9%, respectively. Asian women own the least number of companies overall, with 7.6%.

Women small business owners by ethnicity, 2012

However, as of 2012, most small business are still owned by men—64% of all small businesses have at least one male owner, while about 55% are entirely male-owned. The male majority applies to all ethnic groups, with the exception of black Americans. African American women actually own more businesses than their male counterparts—nearly 60% of all black-owned businesses are owned by women.

Small business owners by <br>gender and ethnicity, 2012

What’s driving black women to open their own businesses? Harris contends that after the financial crisis, it was their best option. Many black women who lost their jobs turned to entrepreneurship and, in many cases, as the data shows, those businesses thrived.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” she says.

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