Navigating disparities and building the ‘BlackPrint’ for Black women entrepreneurs

BY Dorinda Walker December 1, 2023 3:37 PM EDT
Photo credit: Tassii. Source:

Black entrepreneurs have long grappled with disparities in securing venture capital funding, receiving less than 2% of overall dollars annually. Black women entrepreneurs face an even more staggering challenge, receiving less than 1%. Recent events, such as efforts by a conservative group to halt affirmative action, including grants to Black women—underscore the ongoing struggle for equity. Despite deliberate attempts to disenfranchise Black women, their resilience, determination, and ability to thrive persist.

In this challenging landscape, the work of Dr. Cameka Smith and The BOSS Network has become increasingly significant. The recently released Visions of Strength research report, conducted in partnership with Sage, illuminates the incredible impact of Black women founders in Atlanta’s business world. Dr. Smith’s vision extends beyond changing the narrative; it involves crafting a “BlackPrint” for Black women in business, asserting their influential role in economic empowerment.

Over the past 14 years, Dr. Cameka Smith’s commitment to serving and uplifting Black women has been unwavering. Recognizing the importance of telling the narrative in their own voice, Dr. Smith ensured the research was conducted by SightsSet, a Black woman-owned research firm, grounding the insights in cultural understanding. The stories uncovered from the Black women founders in the research reveal unwavering faith, resilience, and determination.

At the core of their entrepreneurial journeys, these women embarked on a mission driven by a deep desire to serve their communities or address unmet market needs. The research exposed a profound truth: despite systemic challenges in securing capital, irregular cash flow, and digital marketing frustrations, their optimism, confidence, and unwavering faith endured. Astonishingly, these trailblazing entrepreneurs bootstrapped their businesses without significant capital, sustaining and often flourishing as profitable business owners.

The narrative takes a compelling turn with a game-changing insight: the indispensable role of a comprehensive business and financial plan, coupled with a diverse team of advisors holding regular advisory meetings. This strategic approach emerged as the linchpin for the success of Black women entrepreneurs, offering hope in the face of systemic capital challenges. Despite the hurdles, these women showcased an inspiring commitment to self-funding their ventures, underscoring the critical importance of strategic planning and professional guidance in navigating the entrepreneurial landscape.

“Through The BOSS Network, our goal is not just changing the narrative for Black women entrepreneurs; it’s about crafting a ‘BlackPrint’ that empowers, inspires, and uplifts. In a world where disparities persist, our resilience becomes our greatest asset. We’re not just building businesses; we’re forging paths to equity and dismantling barriers. The Visions of Strength research report is a testament to the power of strategic planning, unwavering faith, and the transformative potential within each Black woman entrepreneur. Together, we are not just thriving against the odds; we are shaping a future where our collective strength paves the way for lasting change.”

-Dr. Cameka Smith

As we reflect on these findings, it becomes clear that the success recipe unveiled in Atlanta extends beyond its entrepreneurs. It is a universal call to action for all entrepreneurs, particularly Black women, to invest time crafting well-structured business and financial plans and seek advisors for crucial support. In doing so, they not only enhance individual success but also contribute to the economic empowerment of the Black community and contribute to the closing of the gender and racial wealth gap.

The Visions of Strength research report is a testament to the remarkable potential of Black women entrepreneurs. Read the full report and delve into the stories and insights that inspire and empower. Together, let us forge a future where the visions of strength held by Black women entrepreneurs flourish and thrive, illuminating the path for a brighter and more equitable tomorrow. Dr. Cameka Smith’s leadership with The BOSS Network exemplifies the transformative power of visionary thinking, paving the way for lasting change in the landscape of Black women’s businesses.