Skandalaris Center

The background image for the website. It is a multi colored mosaic.

Entrepreneurship Addressing the Black and White Wealth Gap

Shyla Harton (MSW '22)
February 8, 2022

This blog is part of a series to recognize and celebrate Black History Month.

When analyzing the Black and White wealth gap, Black individuals and families fall behind their White counterparts. The wealth gap affects Black individuals and families and the overall US economy. Entrepreneurship can impact the Black wealth gap and expand financial freedom amongst Black communities. Healthy Black-owned businesses can be a crucial component to closing the US Black-White wealth gap and positively impacting the US economy.

There are daunting challenges Black entrepreneurs continue to face. Black business owners do not receive the same access to capital (intellectual, social and financial) as their White counterparts. This leads Black entrepreneurs to use personal credit cards to fund their businesses. Black entrepreneurship can show some positive stats and give hope towards a brighter future for Black wealth.

When looking at the median wealth between Black business owners and White median wealth, the Black-White wealth gap shrinks 3 to 1 instead of comparing the median wealth of Black non-business owners, which is 13 to 1. The quote shows me that the wealth gap would be significantly smaller to work with and that Black business owners hold more wealth than Black non-business owners. Black business owners not only create wealth for themselves but the community as well. Black business owners also create over 1 million jobs and generate over $165 billion in revenue.

In my mind, these facts show me that if we push for Black entrepreneurship, we can close the Black-White gap sooner than we think but, everyone isn’t interested in entrepreneurship. How can entrepreneurship contribute without everyone having to be the boss?  Black-owned businesses created over 1 million jobs that can contribute to the overall family income and wealth. Although these facts show a positive impact on Black wealth, these statistics positively impact the US economy overall.

Shyla Harton

Black entrepreneurship is a need for the economy, but potential business owners must identify downsides to entrepreneurship. One of the downsides of entrepreneurship is that Black-owned businesses are less likely to survive after four years. Focusing on exclusively the growth rate of Black entrepreneurs would defeat the purpose and expand the wealth gap rather than close it. The target should be to focus on increasing sustainable Black businesses and not increasing the rate of Black entrepreneurs. Black entrepreneurship can address the wealth gap if the commitment is focused on sustaining the business as much as getting Black individuals involved in entrepreneurship. Although some African Americans may not be interested in entrepreneurship, Black entrepreneurs should receive the same resources and support to keep their business sustainable as they go through “The valley of death”. Entrepreneurship can add growth to Black families’ assets and income when the Black-owned business is healthy and successful. Funders must make sure resources are equitable amongst Black business owners and contribute to a successful business as well.

Shyla (Shyy) Harton is a Practicum Student at the Skandalaris Center, and a student at the Brown School receiving her Masters of Social Work with a concentration in Social Impact Leadership. Shyy has decided to complete part of the practicum at the Skandalaris Center because she wants to see social workers in all fields. She believes that a non-traditional experience is needed to capture all the skills social workers have and apply them to all fields.