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Report

Minority and women entrepreneurs: Building capital, networks, and skills

Michael Barr

Abstract

The United States has an enviable entrepreneurial culture and a track record of building new companies. Yet new and small business owners often face particular challenges, including lack of access to capital, insufficient business networks for peer support, investment, and business opportunities, and the absence of the full range of essential skills necessary to lead a business to survive and grow. Women and minority entrepreneurs often face even greater obstacles. While business formation is, of course, primarily a matter for the private sector, public policy can and should encourage increased rates of entrepreneurship, and the capital, networks, and skills essential for success, especially among women and minorities. In particular, this discussion paper calls for an expanded State Small Business Credit Initiative and an enlarged and permanent New Markets Tax Credit to encourage private sector investment in new and small businesses. These capital initiatives should be complemented with new federal support for local business networks, and for local skills acquisition initiatives, to make it more likely that small businesses will form, survive, and grow. For the United States to continue to grow, to innovate, and even more importantly to generate jobs, we need to expand our rate of business formation and improve the prospects for survival and growth of young and small businesses. Increasing the rate of minority and female entrepreneurship may help to reduce the race and gender wealth gaps, to reduce income and wealth inequality, and to increase social mobility. With the United States becoming more heterogeneous, increasing business formation by minority and female entrepreneurs is critical to improving the rate of entrepreneurship overall. Thus, if we are to grow as a country, create jobs, and make progress on correcting income and wealth inequality, we need to help minority and female entrepreneurs succeed.

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