Washington, DC
February 15, 2022

Thrice the Adversity: The Challenges of Black Mompreneurship — By Brittany Gonzalez

Every business and entrepreneur is bound to experience setbacks and face adversity over the course of their professional lives. Yet, black mompreneurs have it three times as difficult.

A mompreneur is a female business owner who balances the roles of mother and entrepreneur. She has commitments at home and at work—each of which brings its own set of unique challenges that she must juggle.

Women entrepreneurs receive roughly 2% of all venture funding, despite owning 38% of businesses nationally. Of the 13 million women-owned businesses reported in 2019, an estimated 1 in 3 is owned by a mother. While some mothers take a leap of faith into entrepreneurship to pursue their dreams or provide a solution that is currently unavailable on the market, others start businesses to earn income to support their families—some do both. The lack of funding often inhibits mompreneurs from taking necessary risks to grow their businesses.

These women are turning their passions and side hustles into companies, yet many black women entrepreneurs face the same racial and gender-based biases and social stigmas that they would have likely experienced in a traditional workplace setting. An American Express study found that women-owned businesses produce an average annual revenue of $143,100, yet black-owned ones only generate $24,700. Despite the progress women have made, black women still lag far behind.

“Mommy guilt” and not being taken seriously create difficulties for working mothers. People often question them for starting businesses, believing that their careers will take them away from their children or that their motherhood will lead to ineffective business leadership.

Despite these obstacles, black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S., running about 2.4 million businesses around the country. They own roughly 20% of all women-owned businesses and make an estimated $386.6 billion in annual revenues. Many have overcome adversity and found success, despite the significant challenges that black mompreneurs face, often citing motherhood and legacy as their motivations to persevere.

Take Altrichia Cook for example. Following an unexpected pregnancy at 17, she refused to give up on her dream of launching her own business. After working hard to graduate high school and pursue higher education while raising her son, Cook started her own luxury swimwear line. Since then, her designs have appeared in magazines such as Vogue, Marie Claire, and People. One design even appeared on the front of Cosmopolitan, worn by superstar girl Nicki Minaj.

Another black momprenuer, Ozi Okaro, launched her own online business inspired by motherhood. She noticed that the dolls her daughters played with had a limited range of skin tones. As such, Okaro set out to diversify the toy industry and provide her daughters with dolls whose skin color resembled their own, so she launched Ikuzi Dolls. Today, the brand continues to create dolls that showcase the variety of skin colors, hair textures, and eye colors to whom children of color can relate.

These black mompreneurs illustrate how women have overcome the odds and experienced success in their business ventures. Others, however, have made careers out of facilitating this growth.

WEConnect International UK-certified women business entrepreneur Maxine Nwaneri is a #1 International Bestselling Author, mother and the Founder of the Future is Greater. She is a Business Consultant, Certified Executive Coach & International Speaker skilled at helping business leaders, retain, develop, and advance top diverse talent to drive results.

Part of Nwaneri’s expertise focuses on helping address work-life balance challenges faced by professional mothers so that scaling back or exiting the workforce is not seen as the only sensible option. Her work and message have been featured in numerous stages internationally, and in several online publications including Success Magazine, DiversityQ, Huffpost and Thrive Global.

If there is one thing history has taught us, it is that black women (especially mothers) are resilient. There are countless stories about these women overcoming what appeared to be impossible odds. Current conditions are much better but black mompreneurs still deal with racial bias, gender bias and the unique challenges associated with motherhood. Despite these adversities, they remain resilient and occupy a significant portion of global entrepreneurship. Their strength and passion are celebrated daily through the variety of businesses that they own and manage. This month and every month we celebrate black mompreneurs around the globe.