Business ownership: In an equitable region, race and gender would not be barriers to starting a successful business.

Insights & Analyses

  • Nearly all racial and ethnic groups in the Five-County Bay Area experienced growth in business ownership between 2007 and 2012.
  • Business ownership in the utilities industry grew tremendously between 2007 and 2012 in the Five-County Bay Area.
  • Business ownership rates for sole proprietorships in the Five-County Bay Area were highest among Native Americans in 2012 but on average these businesses experienced one of the lowest levels of revenue.
  • In 2012, there were 28 firms per 100 workers in Marin County, compared with 16 firms per 100 workers in Contra Costa County.

Drivers of Inequity

People of color are less likely than Whites to have access to capital and contracts to start and grow a business, due in part to historical policies such as redlining that denied home loans and wealth-building opportunities to people of color. Today, business loan denial rates for firms owned by people of color are three times higher than for firms owned by Whites. Business owners of color also pay higher interest rates and receive lower loan and equity investments. Although creditworthiness is a factor in loan denials, this metric does not reflect how reliably individuals pay their rent. Underrepresented groups also often face barriers accessing important networks and training programs.


Strengthen places: Policies to expand and sustain business ownership for all residents

Strategy in Action

Bay Area entrepreneurship supports are designed for underserved business owners and to curb persistent unemployment. ICA Fund Good Jobs provides high-quality business consulting services to support the growth of small- and mid-size companies located in high-unemployment areas of the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2019 alone, ICA Fund Good Jobs funded 143 small businesses which employ 547 workers. These jobs have an average hourly wage of $23.36. Of the businesses that ICA serves, 79% have management teams that are majority people of color and 93% that are majority women. Three-quarters of the businesses are owned by people of color and/or women. Learn more


Photo: ICA Fund Good Jobs

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