Academic journal article Journal of Entrepreneurship Education

Concerns and Expectations of African American Entrepreneurship Students

Academic journal article Journal of Entrepreneurship Education

Concerns and Expectations of African American Entrepreneurship Students

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Entrepreneurship education encourages and prepares those who want to become entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial thinkers to be successful. Entrepreneurship education has grown astronomically over the last thirty years. In fact, now the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America offer an "Entrepreneurship Badge" (Timmons, 2008).

Though 11.8 percent of U.S. population is African American, they only own five percent of business firms in the U.S. Moreover, 90 percent of African-American owned firms have no paid employees. Yet between 1997 and 2002, of all groups, African American businesses experienced the highest growth rate, an astounding 45.4 percent (Ying, 2007). Recent growth has not been so strong. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the factors that influence career expectations and concerns of African American entrepreneurship students to ensure their continued economic growth and prosperity. A successful entrepreneurial landscape requires participation from all population sectors. The ethnic breakdown of the U. S. population has and will continue to become increasingly diverse; the contribution of minority business ownership makes a significant impact on the nation's economy (Department of Labor, 2009).

This study investigated African American entrepreneurship students 'perceptions regarding (1) the level of importance of the factors that positively influenced their decisions to pursue an undergraduate degree in entrepreneurship, (2) the financial sources that support their undergraduate education, (3) the level of importance of the supportive elements that they expect will be important in their initial job assignments, and (4) their highest career expectations. Our findings would contribute to the efforts of the business schools and professional organizations in recruiting, retaining, and educating African American entrepreneurship students.

INTRODUCTION

America's small businesses employ more than 50 percent of the private workforce and generate more than half of the nation's gross domestic product (Department of Labor, 2009). It is obvious that entrepreneurs are the main driving force of America's economy. Since more than 95 percent of businesses employ 500 or fewer individuals (Bandyk, 2009), a strong, vibrant, entrepreneurial small business community is critical to a healthy economy and thriving society. Twelve percent (11.8%) of the U.S. population is African American. However, they only own five percent of business firms in the U.S. Moreover, only ten percent of African American owned firms have paid employees, which is significantly below the national average of 25 percent (U. S. Census Bureau, 2002).

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 64 percent of business owners had at least some college education at the time they started or acquired ownership in their businesses. Further, 34.5 percent of Asians had a bachelor's degree or higher level of education, compared to 22 percent for whites, 16.4 percent for Islanders, 10.9 percent for African Americans, 9.2 percent for Native Americans, and 6.8 percent for Hispanics. Receipts vary for all groups based on size and industry. Of all African American owned firms, 50.8 percent made less than $ 10,000, in 2002; whereas 33 .7 percent of white-owned firms and 28.8 percent of Asian-owned firms fell into this category (U.S. Census Bureau, 2002).

Surveys by the Department of Labor indicate that nearly 80 percent of would-be entrepreneurs in the United States are between the ages of 18 and 34 and close to 70 percent of the teenagers wanted to become entrepreneurs (Department of Labor, 2009). Entrepreneurship education offers a solution to encourage and prepare those who want to become entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial thinkers to be successful. According to a Harris Poll survey, sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation, of 2,438 youths between the ages of 8-21 from July 12 to August 2, 2007, four out often respondents indicated that they would like to start their own businesses (Kauffman Foundation, 2007). …

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