Will Latina small business owners save our economy?
I recently attended a National Latina Business Women Association (NLBWA) meeting in Los Angeles. As I heard 25 women around the room introduce themselves and the businesses they owned, I couldn’t help but think about the critical role they are going to play in helping the U.S. economy recover.
In general, women-owned firms contribute $3 trillion annually to the U.S. economy and account for 16% of all jobs. Recent research shows that all women entrepreneurs will create 5 to 5.5 million new jobs across the U.S. by 2018 – more than half of the total new small-business jobs expected to be created during that time, and about one-third of the total new jobs anticipated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to the latest Kauffman Firm Survey, Latina-owned businesses, in fact, represent the fastest-growing segment of the women-owned business market. Between 2002 and 2007, their businesses increased by 172 percent. Also, according to a 2009 Corporate Inclusion Index of the Hispanic Association for Corporate Responsibility (HACR), Latinas are starting businesses at a rate six times the national average. MANA, a Latina organization and a coalition member of HACR, conducted the research.
So why is there such growth in entrepreneurship among women and especially Latinas? My conversations and consultations with Latinas over the years has taught me that they have been disappointed with corporate America. They aren’t promoted enough, they are misunderstood culturally, and they get paid less than men and non-Hispanic women. Also, since many Latinas put family first, they also feel the stress of having to balance work and family life. For these reasons, many Latinas (and women in general) are starting their own small businesses at unprecedented rates despite the difficult economy.
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