America’s entrepreneurial motifs are built upon the belief that personal drive and potential are the only necessary ingredients in a successful business. However, certain industries and locations have made themselves clear favorites for up-and-coming business owners. While Silicon Valley and Northern California is home to industry giants like Google, Facebook and Tesla Motors, for America’s top black entrepreneurs, it seems that success is not necessarily founded in the West.
In June, Black Enterprise released its annual BE Top 100 listing, which features statistics on America’s highest earning black-owned businesses nationwide. Of the top 100 CEO’s listed by the magazine, the states appearing most on the list were unsurprisingly home to cities with huge black populations. Among them were Texas, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Popular industries included IT accounts, management and administrative services, retail trade, construction, and professional and technical services.
Though the number of black-owned businesses in America has been on a sharp increase, those businesses struggle to reach a sizable share of the consumer market. A 60 percent rise in the number of black businesses brought that number to 1.9 million in 2007, but only 0.5 percent of all receipts belonged to black companies in that same year.
Maggie Anderson, who wrote the book “Our Black Year” after spending a year shopping only with black-owned businesses, described some of the challenges facing black entrepreneurs.
“Black business owners have to do what any other business owner has to do in order to succeed,” she told The Huffington Post. “The difference is that it is harder for a black business owner, even when they do exactly what any other entrepreneur does.”
Specifically, Anderson blamed a lack of access to loans and capital, and smaller networks and cultural barriers that exist within the black entrepreneurial community.
“A lot of that restricted access has to do with covert, sometimes arbitrary and latent racism that still exists in our banks, other funding sources, and the overall close-knit nature of the industries they may try to penetrate,” she added.
The BE Top 100 list still stands as proof however that there are definite avenues for black-owned businesses and their CEOs to be successful, across the board, even if their paths are not as conventional as their competitors’.