Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Management

Nontraditional Business Education for Black Entrepreneurs: Observations from a Successful Program

Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Management

Nontraditional Business Education for Black Entrepreneurs: Observations from a Successful Program

Article excerpt

NONTRADITIONAL BUSINESS EDUCATION FOR BLACK ENTREPRENEURS: OBSERVATIONS FROM A SUCCESSFUL PROGRAM

BACKGROUND

Our nation's economic well-being is in part dependent on the continuous infusion of new entrepreneurial and small business ventures. Minorities, blacks in particular, will play a part in this economic future. Some important questions need to be addressed:

1. What will be the extent and nature of their involvement?

2. What will facilitate more effective involvement?

3. What can communities do to ensure more participation by minorities in business development?

Fratoe (1986) contends that black business is foremost a group-level phenomenon that is highly dependent upon social group resources for its development. The individual black entrepreneur in the community is seen as the most visible member of a self-help network of supportive kinship and peer and community subgroups (Fratoe 1984). This network includes family, friends, dependable resources of ethnic labor, other primary institutions such as churches, fraternal orders, etc., and special programs that are established for the purpose of providing a support network and a continuum of services. Many black entrepreneurs feel that one must look to the group as the basis of entrepreneurial effort and that it is not the work of isolated persons, but a coordination of many individual efforts that is needed to supply the functions essential to business ownership. The strength, consistency, and quality of the wide range of services offered by the self-help support network play a critical role when a black entrepreneur starts or tries to successfully maintain a business.

Research shows that family history or a tradition of family-owned business is important for developing entrepreneurs (Goldscheider and Kobrin 1980, Hisrich and Brush 1984). Family role models including parents, uncles and aunts, and cousins provide an environment that encourages young entrepreneurs to learn about business as well as inculcating a positive attitude toward business ownership. Foremost are the motivational effects that accrue over a long period of time that drive young family members to compete with each other in a business sense. This psychological early advantage has not been part of the history of black Americans, because of the paucity of black business role models as well as a lack of entrepreneurial tradition.

Many blacks operate only marginal business ventures with little profit and limited potential. The need for an entire range of assistance and a support system is especially important due to the diminished status of black entrepreneurs when compared to Hispanic, Asian, or Anglo businesspersons (Fratoe 1988). Negative perceptions about self-employment have prompted many young adults to choose professional careers or management positions instead of entrepreneurship. Other youn g adults are negatively influenced by the unrealistic profits of those persons involved in drug traffic when compared to those of the legitimate business owner.

The self-help network is often an important source of financial support for a black entrepreneur to initiate or expand a business. Family and friends often provide the investment capital. When the black business community is not perceived as having viable businesses or the funds from personal sources become unreliable, the black businessperson has to turn to other areas of support. Black entrepreneurs need to understand how to take advantage of the community's resources that provide a wide range of entrepreneurial assistance. This includes training, business advice, contacts, special programs, and access to financing. As important is the need to discover and nurture future business owners by identifying young future entrepreneurs at the high school level and supporting those students who are inclined toward pursuring a business education or career.

NONTRADITIONAL BUSINESS

EDUCATION PROGRAMS

One form of nontraditional education is based on community or local government support. …

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