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Black women are leading among growing entrepreneurs

By Aniya Greene

After her nephew was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 2, an incurable genetic disorder that causes the growth of tumors, Sharina Perry decided to research potential treatments to shrink the tumors. 

Perry’s search led her to begin studying plant material. She discovered that it could shrink tumors and be used as an alternative to petroleum-based plastics, such as plastic straws and plastic bags. 

In 2018, Perry founded Utopia Plastix, a plant-based alternative to plastic that is compostable and degradable. 

Perry, who has been an entrepreneur for over 25 years, said that being a Black woman never felt like a limitation in business. 

“I would always ask, ‘Why not me?’” she said. 

A recent report by GoDaddy’s Venture Forward research initiative found that Black women entrepreneurs like Perry are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S.  

Gizelle George-Joseph, Chief Operating Officer for Global Investment Research at Goldman Sachs, produced a report entitled “Black Womenomics: Equalizing Entrepreneurship,” which focuses on the racial wealth gap and disparities Black women face in business.

George-Joseph found that the growth of Black women entrepreneurs can be attributed to the hardships within business. 

“Black women are challenged by both historical racism and gender discrimination. So entrepreneurship presents a huge opportunity for Black women. And they are making a huge effort to capitalize on this,” she said in an emailed statement. 

However, entrepreneurship is not always a choice for Black women, according to Makisha Boothe, CEO and founder of Sistah Biz, an organization that provides mentorship and training for Black women business owners. 

“A lot of Black women are coming into entrepreneurship, not by desire, but by need,” Boothe said. “They are either entrepreneurs because their current jobs aren’t paying or they have experienced workplace trauma in their institutions.” 

Boothe says that her program has helped Black women not only accelerate their business ventures but also their mindsets. 

“Beyond revenue, they realize that they’re able to do something they didn’t think they could. What they thought was a huge goal is not as lofty anymore,” she added. 

Policy changes are required to further the growth of Black women entrepreneurs and lessen the racial wealth gap, according to George-Joseph.

“Policymakers could enforce fair lending laws to address discrimination in the credit market, and especially expanded access to capital for Black women,” she said.

While the number of Black women entrepreneurs is growing, Perry says she still finds the disparities to be unending. 

“I applaud this increase in Black women entrepreneurs, but I’ve also heard the same challenges being faced from over 25 years ago when I started in entrepreneurship,” she said.

Though entrepreneurship is increasing, Black women business owners are still less likely to receive access to funding than other groups. 

“I have to ask, ‘Are we really advancing and keeping up with how we create equitable opportunity as a society?’” Perry said. 

Perry is among few Black women in the world leading in the space of plant-based plastics, but she said she doesn’t want that to be the reality long-term.

“I don’t want that to always be the narrative,” Perry said. “I don’t want to be in a space where we’re constantly talking about the glass ceiling being shattered because it means we were not occupying space in the first place.”


The Reporter Newspaper
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