Entrepreneurs of Color in Wisconsin: Bridging the Gap in Resources to Mobilize Potential

Despite their substantial contribution to economies, little is known about how entrepreneurs of color in rural areas leverage resources to start ventures.

From August 2014 – October 2015, local researchers from UW-Extension and Ripon College met with 35 Fond du Lac County entrepreneurs who shared their start-up and business experiences, challenges, and successes. All participants were African-American, Asian, Latino, Native American, and/or immigrants.

This Business Success Interviews Infographic Report shows that these business owners are similar to other American business owners in the goals and strategies they shared. There is also one notable difference: how little they use the free, public, business development services available to all area firms even though they are interested to learn more about them.

This summary of their start-up experiences acknowledges their presence in this county and serves as a starting point for continued learning on the part of economic development professionals and educators about how best to maximize the possibilities for all entrepreneurs in Fond du Lac County and Wisconsin.

Diana Hammer and coworker Joseph Malual (University of Illinois-Extension) have published an article in the journal Community Development to explore this in more detail.

Based on interviews in Fond du Lac County with 35 entrepreneurs, the article examines their experiences securing information and financial capital at startup. Results indicate entrepreneurs face barriers to accessing financing, information, and facilitating business networks. While they reported positive views of the community, they are mostly excluded from business organizations and heavily rely on family, friends, Hammer & Malual, 2020 and their own ability to find information and funding.

This research provides important insights for policymakers and practitioners in rural areas hoping to develop vibrant inclusive economies. View Article Here


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