As we celebrate Black History Month throughout February and National Entrepreneurship Week between February 11 and 18, NCBA CLUSA is excited to lift up a recent article from our Fall/Winter issue of the Cooperative Business Journal.
In “Empowered Entrepreneurs: Leveling the Playing Field for Minority-Led Cooperatives,” author and attorney Chynnique Ross writes that the cooperative business model offers workers—especially workers of color—an alternative to extractive systems. “While not a new intervention, cooperatives remain a powerful way to disrupt income inequality, steward community ownership and create vital, vibrant places of opportunity through democratic ownership and asset building.”
Still, Ross writes, the cooperative industry has a problem. And it’s not something a DEI initiative can fix. As entrepreneurs, women of color face heightened sexism and racism. They also have fewer opportunities for mentorship and less access to the networks, strategic partners and capital they need to grow and scale their businesses. “Black women in particular endure systematic oppression directly linked to a long history of racial and gender inequality that affects their entrepreneurial experience,” she writes.
Ross offers some key steps cooperators can take to better empower women of color entrepreneurs:
- Deliberately promote and practice racial equity and unlearn racist attitudes and stereotypes
- Address oppression at multiple levels: personal, cultural, institutional and structural
- Decenter the Rochdale Pioneers cooperative origin story; cooperation has far older history that is deeply rooted in communities of color
- Understand what policies perpetuate unfair outcomes, and work to remove these barriers
- Invest in Black women entrepreneurs
“Women of color need strategies and interventions that support their resilience and demonstrate that the cooperative industry fully embraces them,” Ross writes.
“Women of color need strategies and interventions that support their resilience and demonstrate that the cooperative industry fully embraces them.” – Chynnique Ross
Read the full article at the link below for Ross’ thoughtful analysis of how cooperators can level the playing field for minority women-led cooperatives. Then share your thoughts on social media – how is your cooperative empowering women of color entrepreneurs?