(NewsNation) — Cynthia Bailey, entrepreneur, model and 11-year cast member of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” discussed the challenges Black women face when starting a business on an episode of “The Chris Cuomo Project” podcast released Tuesday.
Bailey told Chris Cuomo, an incoming NewsNation anchor, that she believes schools need to talk about entrepreneurship more at an early age in order to provide greater equal opportunity for entrepreneurs.
“I think it’s important for us to talk about entrepreneurship more in school, like even at an early age. Everyone doesn’t want to be an entrepreneur, everyone can’t be an entrepreneur … but for the people that actually want to, I think that information and that skill set and knowledge should be available to them at a very early age to just start even thinking as an entrepreneur because there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with owning a business,” Bailey said.
Cuomo agreed and said he often believes that education “masks the need for entrepreneurial existence within minority communities.” He also added it is his understanding that it’s even harder when gender is added to the equation.
“So if it’s hard for Black men, it’s even harder for Black women. And we talk education, but we don’t talk entrepreneurial activity enough. And we see the disparities,” Cuomo said.
A report by Brookings found that in 2019, only 2.3% of employer firms were Black-owned, even though Black people compromise about 14% of the country’s population. Most Black businesses are not employer businesses, meaning a lot of them are small businesses where the person who starts it is pretty much the main employee with maybe the help of family members.
Cuomo said that if you want people to be able to get themselves to a better place, they have to have access to equity and the ability to generate their own success or failure. He argued it’s time for the nation to reassess its education system.
For Bailey, it was important for her to become an entrepreneur. She wanted to be financially independent because she said it was hard watching how hard her grandmother and mother worked.
“I knew with money and success, I would have options. I would have power. I would have the means to not only take care of myself, but also help the generations to come after me, I really didn’t realize how important it was at the time,” Bailey said.
Her success as a Black entrepreneur means everything to her. She understands how her platform as a model and reality TV star was able to help her promote her businesses more than without.
“I know that me having the house by platform, my modeling platform, those platforms definitely helped me a little bit more than just any other normal Black woman that’s trying to start a business. That was why it was important for me to make sure I leveraged those platforms … Normally, a regular Black woman would have to pay for marketing and promotion. They would never have that type of worldwide exposure. And I could understand how they would easily get overwhelmed and give up,” Bailey said.
Bailey said that she also likes that she is able to give job opportunities to Black communities. She feels she is helping to change the community and the way Black entrepreneurs are viewed, hoping that the work she has done has given back to the Black community.
For those who are working to become entrepreneurs, Bailey said there are different opportunities available for financial funding. She said there are grants that Black-owned businesses can apply for to help sustain their businesses. It is important for her to share this information because she understands a lot of personal finances are put into running your own business.
Bailey believes that a change in the education system could help future entrepreneurs be smarter and more prepared when it comes time to start their own businesses, including knowing financial options to help get companies up and running.