Conference to Focus on Inequities in Entrepreneurship

Oct. 23-25 event is free and open to the public

Why many black and women entrepreneurs never have the chance to grow beyond their small starts – or, in some cases, even start their businesses at all – is the subject of a conference Oct. 23-25 at Duke University.

The conference, “Capital Matters: Race, Gender and Entrepreneurship,” takes place at The Fuqua School of Business, the JB Duke Hotel and the Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center on Duke’s West Campus. It is free and open to the public.

“There is a tremendous degree of entrepreneurial energy and imagination across all social groups in America, but black entrepreneurs, in particular, start business ownership with far lower levels of family wealth,” said William A. Darity Jr., director of Duke’s Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity and a professor of public policy, African and African American Studies and economics. “This greatly lowers their odds of establishing successful and sustainable enterprises.”

In 2018, according to data from PitchBook and All Raise, female founders received just 2.2 percent of all venture capital, and in recent years, the equivalent share for black founders has fallen shy of 1 percent of the total. Unsurprisingly, these disparities heighten where race and gender intersect: According to digitalundivided’s ProjectDiane 2018, Black women have raised only 0.0006 percent of all venture capital funding over the past decade.

The three-day event will feature a range of panel discussions, conversations, film screenings and workshops exploring the myriad barriers to financial health for these populations.

Featured sessions include “Wealth Inequality: Challenges and Opportunities for Entrepreneurs of Color,” “Gender Wealth Gap: Business Ownership as a Wealth-Building Tool for Women,” and “Addressing the Financial Health Needs of Small Business Owners.”

Each day of the conference will include a keynote address. Michael S. Barr, professor and dean of public policy at the University of Michigan, will speak at noon Wednesday at the JB Duke Hotel.

Roshawnna Novellus, founder and CEO of EnrichHER, will speak Thursday at noon in the JB Duke Hotel Ballroom, and David A. Thomas, president of Morehouse College, will speak Friday at 8:30 a.m. in the Geneen Auditorium at Fuqua.

An exhibit on Durham’s historic Black Wall Street will debut Wednesday night at the Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center, examining the city’s diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem, as well as context for what derailed similar black entrepreneurial communities across America. North Carolina Sen. Floyd B. McKissick Jr. will speak at the exhibit’s unveiling.

The event will also feature scholars from the Cook Center, The Fuqua School of Business and a range of other visiting speakers.

Visitors are asked to register for the sessions they plan to attend. For up-to-date information, including the agenda and speakers, visit the conference website.

The forum is sponsored by JP Morgan Chase and Co. and the Asset Funders Network and organized by the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University.