Abstract: This Far By Faith: A Spiritual Path to Creating Social Justice within Community By Women of Color Entrepreneurs (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

675P This Far By Faith: A Spiritual Path to Creating Social Justice within Community By Women of Color Entrepreneurs

Sunday, January 16, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Ali-Sha Alleman, PhD, Assistant Professor, Radford University, Radford, VA
Background and Purpose:

Entrepreneurial activities historically played a pivotal role within communities of color in the United States, because it provided a pathway to economic and social justice in the wake of a culture of racial oppression. Women of color inspired by spirituality, engage in entrepreneurism not only as a strategy to create economic and social justice, but also improve their life satisfaction.

There is a paucity in social work research about women of color spirituality related to entrepreneurship, social justice and life satisfaction. This presentation contributes to this research by examining the lived experience of twelve women of color entrepreneurs and their reflections on the role of spirituality in the context of creating social justice within their communities. Participants offer suggestions as how to best support women of color who pursue this entrepreneurial path overcome multiple barriers.

Methods: Snowball sampling was used to recruit and conduct semi-structured interviews with twelve women of color entrepreneurs. Study participants were diverse in ethnic composition, marital status, education level, family status, professional identity, extent of entrepreneurial experience and industry. The approach used a phenomenological approach to capture what is at the core of being a woman of color entrepreneur, by interviewing those who have five years or more as a full-time entrepreneur.

Participant demographics were predominantly African American, with one Latina woman and one Korean woman, both identified as immigrants. Most of the participants were highly educated in a committed relationship with varying parental status. Entrepreneurial experience ranged from five years to ten plus years. Thirty-three percent (n= 4) of the women had five years of experience, 33 percent (n=4) had six to ten years experience, and thirty three percent (n=4) had more than ten years of experience. The participant’s industries included gender typical industries such as food service, salon ownership and day care. Other industries included entrepreneurial coaching, human services, business consulting, and entertainment business. Participant narratives were transcribed verbatim and thematically coded using Atlas TI software guided by phenomenology principles.

Findings: Women of color entrepreneurs’ narratives culminated into themes of addressing social inequity through community service, spirituality, and enhanced life satisfaction. (Findings suggested entrepreneurs driven by spirituality and social justice resulting in enhanced life satisfaction despite encountering economic, regulatory, gender and racial barriers).

Conclusion and Implications:

Findings highlight women of color entrepreneurs often experience racial and gender oppression while dealing with governmental structures and combatting social injustices within their communities. A spiritual fortitude can be instrumental to pushing forward to achieve social and economic justice for communities of color.

It is imperative to educate social work practitioners about entrepreneurship as an aspect of fulfilling a spiritual calling and social justice. Participants affirmed understanding the motivation, benefits and the pitfalls of entrepreneurship enables social workers to better educate and counsel women of color as they consider business ownership as an option to address social injustice within their community. Moreover, for practitioners to advocate for economic development between community groups and developers to invest in communities of color.