Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States

Black women make up less than 10% of the U.S. population, but they have emerged as the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs, according to new research from GoDaddy.

The number of businesses run by Black women in the United States was trending upward even before the Covid-19 pandemic, which accelerated entrepreneurship in general.

Between 2017 and 2020, the number of Black women-owned businesses increased by nearly 20%, far outpacing the growth of women-owned businesses and Black-owned businesses overall, the Brookings Institution reports .

“For me, the rise of black women entrepreneurs means that we’re starting to believe in ourselves more, that we’re finally recognizing how limitless we are,” says Joy Ofodu, who left her job at Instagram to become a journalist full time. creator and voice actor in 2022.

Ofodu’s decision to leave Instagram reflects a larger trend of Black women abandoning corporate jobs and turning to entrepreneurship for greater freedom, fulfillment and flexibility in their careers.

Escaping burnout in the corporate world

Brianna Doe says she decided to strike out on her own last summer, after months of feeling “deeply unhappy” in her role as marketing director at a fintech startup.

“I was in this vicious cycle of burnout where I would start a new job, and, just a few months later, things would start going downhill, and I could never figure out why,” Doe, 30, recalls.

It wasn’t until Doe began working with a career coach in July 2023 that she realized her job wasn’t the problem: She worked corporate, period.

Brianna Doe

Photo: Jessica Ginepro

“I was really afraid of failing, of losing the stability of a paycheck coming in every month, but it was also exhausting trying to fit into a system that wasn’t created for me,” Doe says.

Doe has taken on various side projects as a marketing consultant throughout her career since 2011, but didn’t consider turning it into a full-time business until her career coach suggested she make the leap to entrepreneurship.

She was fired from the startup in September, just days before she planned to give her two weeks’ notice. Just a few weeks later, in October 2023, Doe, along with his co-founder Alexis Rivera Scott, launched Verbatim, their marketing agency. Doe works remotely from her home in Phoenix, while Rivera Scott works remotely from Boise.

“It was healing to work for myself and create a more fulfilling and supportive space,” Doe says. “I didn’t realize how much workplace trauma I had accumulated that I wouldn’t have to deal with until I left that system completely.”

Building support ecosystems for Black talent

Three years ago, Leslie Frelow decided to pursue a full-time entrepreneurial venture with one of her favorite hobbies: drinking wine.

At the time, Frelow was working as a senior director at the Universal Service Administrative Company, a nonprofit organization under the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington, DC.

He loved his job, but he loved his side business even more, leading virtual wine tastings and tours of Maryland wineries.

Frelow also saw an unmet need he could fill in the wine industry: supporting sommeliers, farmers and winemakers of color. According to the Association of African American Vintners, less than 1% of U.S. wineries are black-owned.

Leslie Frelow

Photo: K Price Photography

He launched The Wine Concierge, an online wine shop and subscription wine club, in December 2020 and left his job to run the business full-time in October 2021.

Starting a business in a predominantly white, male-dominated industry has not been without its challenges.

“When I go to industry events, I’m still one of the only Black people or women in the room,” Frelow, 53, says. “And if I bring one of my team members who is not a Black woman, people will defer to them as if they own the company, not me.”

However, Frelow says she wouldn’t trade her role as an entrepreneur “for anything.”

“It gave me the most flexibility to be there for my aging parents to pursue something I really love, which is seeing people’s enthusiasm for trying wines they didn’t know existed,” he says.

Find success by pursuing your passions

Ofodu, a content creator and voice actor, has always had aspirations of becoming an artist in the back of her mind, but those dreams didn’t come true until the 2020 pandemic lockdown.

“I was really experiencing the best of both worlds: I had my dream corporate job and I had this budding business venture, where I was starting to get paid for the content I posted on Instagram and TikTok,” says Ofodu, who declined to do so. share his age.

Ofodu decided to spend her newfound free time practicing voice acting, drawing on her love of animated films and cartoons as a child. She posted her first demo reel on Instagram in June 2021 and, within hours, received an offer to do a voiceover for a podcast in her inbox.

She left her job as an integrated marketing manager at Instagram in October 2022 to pursue voice acting and content creation full-time.

“I could measure the opportunity cost of staying where I was as a tech employee and only creating content or voice acting part-time versus working for myself, and by doing both, I was leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars and job opportunities on the table , simply because I didn’t have the time or ability to do it all,” he recalls.

But as soon as Ofodu started acting as a voice actress, “it was like reactivating a childhood dream,” she adds. “I knew I had to leave my job and walk by faith, not by sight.”

By all measures, Ofodu has quickly succeeded in his career, lending his voice to video games, podcasts, TV series, and even a yet-to-be-released animated short starring Whoopi Goldberg.

Ofodu says one of his business goals is to make dubbing a more open and inclusive industry.

“Voice acting and filmmaking are still a predominantly male industry and, in some ways, can feel like a kind of boys club,” says Ofodu.

According to a 2021 report from the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender, Black women and girls made up less than 4% of leads or co-leads in the 100 highest-grossing films of the past decade . Average.

“Ultimately, when it comes to being a Black female entrepreneur, I don’t want what I’m doing to be so rare, it doesn’t energize me to be the first or only Black female to do something,” Ofodu says. “I want to open the doors wide for many, many more to join me.”

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