Female Entrepreneurs Reshaping Small Business in Detroit

As the role of men and women continue to evolve, society is seeing the latter present breakthrough capabilities and demonstrating their significant contributions. In the business arena, for one, the playing field has certainly leveled. Women are proving they can do business and mean it.

Just as more and more women now proving themselves worthy of top positions in corporations across key industries, they have also proven themselves worthy of emulation with their leadership and business skills. Women are showing that like men, they have what it takes to start a business, oversee its operations, be involved in those operations, make critical business decisions, and catapult an enterprise to success.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor revealed that the year 2013 showed that an estimated 26 million females are starting their own businesses. Some 98 million more are running established enterprises. The gender roles are seeing a shift most experts would have expected – and women’s business involvement has become a key factor. This is despite the many drawbacks that female entrepreneurs are experiencing and struggling to rise from.

The surge in female’s involvement in businesses has become apparent in Detroit, which took a hard blow during the most recent period of recession in the United States that took about 18 months. As Michigan’s capital rise from the effects of the economic slump, women – mostly immigrants – are taking their key role as entrepreneurs – a notable incidence in the city that is hailed as “the automotive capital of the world”.

The tech-town, which would strike visitors as a city dominated by male business owners, is suggesting a highly significant shift. Myrna Segura of the Southwest Detroit Business Association confirmed that for immigrant women in Detroit, “owning a business is a solution” because “they expect to otherwise be excluded from the work force.”

There exist several organizations are also help empower women in and out of the United states into maximizing their potential for business and leadership. Top advisers support women who have what it takes to face the tremendous task of entrepreneurship in different industries, and help open opportunities for them.

The Detroit Free Press has the story on the change that Detroit is experiencing:

The growth in women-owned businesses is a relatively recent phenomenon.

In 1997, 31% of Detroit firms were registered under a woman’s name. A decade later that figure had jumped to 50%. And while 2012 data is only set for release in June 2015 — meaning an accurate up-to-date analysis is difficult — anecdotal evidence in Detroit suggests the trend is still growing.

What’s more, in 1997, when Detroit’s population was close to a million, official data recorded just 26,085 businesses in operation in the city. By 2007, that number had almost doubled to 50,588, even as the city’s population was steadily declining to 700,000 and below.

The boom in businesses was not only accompanied by population decrease, it also unfolded at a time in Detroit’s history when job losses became brutal. This may indicate that some people — especially women and minorities previously underrepresented among business owners — decided to open their businesses rather than seek work in a steadily declining job market.

Between 2000 and 2010, Michigan lost around 850,000 jobs — almost half of the 2 million jobs lost across the U.S. during the same period.

Sarah Swider, an assistant professor in sociology at Wayne State University, cautions that such statistics may be influenced by the number of residents leaving the state or finding new jobs. But Michigan undeniably lost a huge number of jobs over that decade, especially in manufacturing.

In Detroit, tales abound of women losing their factory jobs and using severance money toward setting up their own businesses.

The leap is not restricted to women. Minority-owned businesses also went up between 1997 and 2007, from 47% of Detroit-based firms in 1997 to 70% in 2007. That trend is indicative of African Americans and recent immigrants turning to entrepreneurship.

Photo by Next Berlin

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