A Force to Be Reckoned With: Celebrating African-American Women-Owned Businesses

Black History Month is a time to honor African-Americans in every endeavor and throughout our history. This month WomenVenture is celebrating the accomplishments of four enterprising women—Junita Flowers-Cathey, Natalia Hals, Shawtan Howell and Krizia Rogers. These entrepreneurs are in good company and they are an influential group; African-American women represent the fastest growing segment of women-owned businesses in America today.

Junita Flowers-Cathey, Owner, Favorable Treats

As a new mom, Junita wanted to support her growing family while doing something she was passionate about. Inspired by the countless hours she spent baking cookies and cakes from scratch with her grandmother, Junita envisioned a business delivering her own delicious cookie creations to the world. She launched Favorable Treats as a seasonal holiday business in 2009 and came to WomenVenture a few years later for business coaching and help with her website. Today, her year-round web-based business offers handcrafted cookie boxes perfect for celebrating life's events, and her frozen cookie dough is available at Whole Foods and other Twin Cities grocers.

Not only do women like Junita make the lives of their families better with their ventures, they improve our neighborhoods and our nation. African-American women-owned businesses like Favorable Treats contribute $227 billion in annual revenue to our nation's economy. More information

Natalia Hals, Owner, A Woman's Design

When a family member went into labor during Natalia's sixteenth birthday party, she accompanied her to the hospital and stayed by her side throughout the birth. That life-changing experience was the beginning of Natalia's journey to becoming a doula, and ultimately, to launching her small business—A Woman's Design. When Natalia was ready to grow the business, she came to WomenVenture for counseling, classes and a loan. In addition to offering birth and postpartum doula support, Natalia recently launched The Nesting Place, her childbirth and family education center that provides resources and a community of support for moms-to-be.

In the past decade, the demand for doulas has grown exponentially. African-American women-owned businesses are launching at six times the national average. A Woman’s Design is part of an expanding women's health care movement, and a growth trend in women-led businesses that does not appear it will slow down anytime soon. More information

Shawntan Howell, Founder, Girls Are Powerful

Shawntan was known for wearing T-shirts with inspirational quotes and messages, and she loved the way they made her feel. Her “ah-ha” moment came when Shawntan realized that creating her own line of products featuring positive messaging for girls and young women could help them to be confident, make positive decisions and exhibit responsible behaviors. She first designed a “Girls Are Powerful” T-shirt and that led to a variety of “Inspire Me” products including shirts, bags, wristbands, notebooks and more. Shawntan attended a WomenVenture business planning class and met with a consultant for guidance throughout her journey. Her business was also featured in the Marketplace at WomenVenture’s 2014 annual fall luncheon.

Girls Are Powerful is expanding to include Shawntan's Empowered to Be Me program that is currently in development. She is a role model for girls of all ages and her enterprise is part of a powerful demographic of African-American women who own a total of 2.7 million businesses in the United States today. More information

Krizia "Angel" Rogers, Owner, Angel's Learning Center

Krizia's love of children made her vision for a North Minneapolis daycare business crystal clear—provide high quality, community-based child care with an emphasis on education. She came to WomenVenture for one-on-one consulting and financing to make her dream a reality. She opened the doors to Angel's Learning Center in 2013, serving families with children from 6 weeks to 5 years of age by providing childcare, preschool programs, before and after school programs and Saturday drop-in care. Curriculum is catered to every age group and based on each child's current stage of development.

African-American women-owned businesses like Angel's Learning Center are fueling the nation's economy by employing 1.4 million people annually. Krizia employs a full-time team of educators who are not only highly skilled and knowledgeable, but committed to their work and dedicated to the well-being of children. More information

Want to ensure women like Junita, Natalia, Shawntan and Krizia experience continued success? Here's how you can help:

  • Support:  Advocate for women business owners by purchasing their products, utilizing their services and spreading the word about their businesses. More information
  • Volunteer:  Make a lasting impact with women business owners by volunteering your time and expertise. More information
  • Donate: Make a personal contribution to provide tools and resources to help entrepreneurs launch or expand businesses and strengthen our community. More information