Over the past decade, minority owned businesses have accounted for more than half of the two million new companies started in the U.S., leading to the creation of nearly 5 million jobs, according to the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
However, minority-owned small businesses face unique challenges in the marketplace that other businesses do not. These include discrimination, limited access to capital, and difficulty finding qualified employees.
Here are five of the biggest challenges faced by minority business owners:
Access to Capital
One of the biggest challenges faced by minority business owners is accessing capital. This includes both traditional sources of capital such as banks and venture capitalists, as well as alternative forms of capital such as crowdfunding and microloans.
Lack of Knowledge About Government Programs
Another challenge is lack of knowledge about government programs available to help minority businesses. Many people assume that because they are not familiar with the government programs available to help minorities, they cannot access those programs. However, there are many ways to find out what programs exist and how to apply for them.
There are many forms of discrimination against minority business owners. One form is when an employer refuses to hire a qualified minority applicant because he or she is of a certain race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. This type of discrimination is illegal under federal law. Other forms of discrimination include refusing to promote a minority employee, denying equal pay based on gender, or discriminating against employees who are pregnant or have children.
Lobbying by Corporations
Another challenge faced by minority business owners is lobbying efforts by corporations. These efforts are designed to influence government policy so that certain corporations receive favorable treatment. For example, some companies lobby Congress to pass laws that favor their interests. Others lobby state legislatures to enact policies that benefit their industries. Still others lobby local governments to adopt regulations that protect their industry. These lobbying efforts are not often in the best interest of smaller and minority owned businesses.
Systemic Barriers to Education and Resources
Because of systemic discrepancies in access to education and career opportunities, minority business owners might lack the skills needed to succeed in certain fields. They might also lack the networks that help them connect with other people who can provide support.