African-American Entrepreneurship in America: A growing Business

African-American Entrepreneurship in America: A growing Business


By Yolanda Clark

Throughout history, African-Americans have always found ways to make money aside from their regular jobs to provide for their families. From doing hair in the back room of someones house to selling fish dinners on Friday nights, black entrepreneurship has grown tremendously over the years.

As far back as the early 1900s, small black owned businesses helped minority families obtain services that were needed but not always able to obtain due to racism. In 1903, Maggie L. Walker opened the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in Richmond, VA. Alonzo Franklin was the first known black millionaire. He founded the Atlanta family Life Insurance Company in 1905.

The Civil Rights movement is well known and documented as an important part of American history, however not many people are aware of the role the African-American entrepreneurs played during this time. Black owned taxi cabs and grocery stores provided services to the protesters as well as other small businesses in the community. The services were much needed and appreciated given the fact other business refused to help.

Starting a business can be challenging and stressful for anyone, but for minorities there can be other obstacles that may stand in the way of achieving that goal. The most important thing someone thinking about opening their own business can do is to get educated. Many communities provide courses on how to start a business. Courses are often offered at community colleges and local not for profit agencies. These courses will offer advice on financial management, the legal aspects of running a business and how to get the funds needed for the start up cost. In recent years, more high schools are starting to offer students college based courses that are focused on starting a business. These courses encourage and allow the younger generation to move toward owning a business rather than working for someone else.

African-Americans have the power to take back their community one small business at a time. Nail salons, grocery stores, health and beauty stores, restaurants and financial institutions just to name a few. It is important that we uplift and encourage one another the way the generations before us did, and pave the way for our children and grandchildren to be a part of a community that we can all be proud of.