The number of businesses owned by black women in the U.S., as well as in Missouri and Kansas, has skyrocketed.
A report from the Kansas City Federal Reserve shows businesses owned by black women surged 85 percent in Kansas and 149 percent in Missouri from 2002-2012, the latest years numbers are available.
“This is a very significant trend and nobody’s really talking about it,” Dell Gines, who authored the report, said.
A major takeaway is the need for more support for black women who own businesses.
“They’re not seeing a lot of direct business role models. They’re not having a lot of mentors. They’re not seeing direct, specific programs that’s targeted towards them,” Gines said. “Very, very little attention, research-wise, policy-wise, program-wise has been paid to this group.”
Dawn Rattan built EverFit, a boutique gym in Shawnee, from nothing but gravel in 2015.
“I set out to build a community of people who look forward to going to work out,” Rattan said. “I’ve always loved working out and loved the way it made me feel.”
For her, like most black women the report’s author talked to, the biggest obstacle was a lack of experience.
“I was jumping to what classes are we going to have, how many times are we going to teach cycle and boxing,” Rattan said. “Then it’s like, ‘Ok, well how much is this floor per square foot? Is there a cheaper one?’”
Rattan says being a black woman held her back at first from being the face of the business.
“I was hesitant to tell people I was the owner, and I don’t know why,” she said. “I just had a talk with myself. I was like, ‘Why am I not telling people I’m the owner? Do I internally think they won’t come because they see me?’”
Three years later, she credits mentors, patience and commitment for her success.
“There’s no 9 to 5. There’s a lot of times I’m in bed still typing things up,” she said. “Entrepreneurship is not for the weak.”
Now, a photo in the lobby makes clear who owns the gym.
“There’s that struggle but there’s a sense of pride saying this is mine,” she said. “This is my baby. I feel like I’ve created a community.”
Rattan said on Facebook she makes an effort to seek out and friend other small business owners to connect with and follow their plans.
Gines said there’s a similar trend of Hispanic women opening up businesses but to a lesser extent.