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Open Access Publications from the University of California

In the spring of 2021, IGS launched a two-year Diversity and Entrepreneurship Fellowship Program. Cal-in-Sacramento Fellows conducted original research focused on the challenges and opportunities facing women- and POC-owned small businesses and diverse entrepreneurs in California. This series includes Op-Eds, blogs, policy briefs and other research products that capture key findings of the students’ research.

Cover page of Closing the Wealth Gap: Removing Barriers Faced by Women of Color Entrepreneurs

Closing the Wealth Gap: Removing Barriers Faced by Women of Color Entrepreneurs


Small businesses are at the cornerstone of the US economy - driving innovation, generating wealth, and creating jobs. Although women of color (WOC) make up an important and expanding segment of small business owners, research has shown that they are also more likely to face challenges accessing capital, which limits their opportunities for growth and innovation. Understanding their experiences is therefore crucial for identifying policies and practices that can bridge resource gaps for marginalized business owners.

Our research takes a qualitative approach to uncovering how lived experiences and intersectionality impact WOC's access to capital and how resources, policies, and practices can support their access to the right capital at the right time. Based on 31 interviews with WOC entrepreneurs, our research uncovers the factors enabling and constraining WOC entrepreneurs when starting and growing their businesses and the effect of lived experience on women of color entrepreneurs' ability to innovate and take risks. We conclude with concrete policy recommendations for how to begin to dismantle the barriers encountered by WOC entrepreneurs and bring greater equity to WOC entrepreneurs and the communities their businesses serve.