Cities With the Most Minority-Owned Startups

Black business owner-2B3HBEJ
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

By Lauren Bringle, AFC®

In addition to being a critical driver of growth in the economy overall, entrepreneurship is one of the many ways that individuals can build wealth in America. But as 2020 has illustrated, opportunities to participate and succeed in the entrepreneurial economy are not equally distributed by race and ethnicity.

This year, a wave of racial justice protests nationwide and the economic repercussions of COVID-19 have drawn more attention to the struggles that minority communities face in building and sustaining wealth. According to a McKinsey analysis, two of the primary challenges facing minority business owners are structural barriers to financial health and disproportionate representation in industries most susceptible to economic shocks like those presented by COVID-19.

The first and foremost structural barrier for would-be minority entrepreneurs is access to capital. Minority households have lower pre-existing levels of wealth and savings to put towards a new business, while banks and other creditors are less likely to approve loans for Black or Hispanic small-business owners than they are for white business owners. Without upfront capital to invest in a growing business, minority entrepreneurs struggle to run and scale their operations.

Chart1 Hispanics Blacks are underrepresented among US startup owners

The effect is that minorities are underrepresented in the startup economy relative to their share of the population. Non-Hispanic whites, who represent around 60 percent of the U.S. population, own nearly 80 percent of the nation’s startup businesses. In contrast, Hispanics of any race represent 18 percent of the population and 7 percent of startup owners, while for Black Americans those figures are 12 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

In the COVID-19 environment, another pressing issue has been the types of businesses that minority entrepreneurs are likely to lead. The industry sectors with the highest concentration of minority business owners have also been some of the industries most susceptible to the economic shocks created by restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Chart2 Minority business owners are most represented in accomodation food

The accommodation and food services industry—in which nearly one-third of business owners are members of minority groups—is a prime example. Bars and indoor dining have been prohibited or severely curtailed in many jurisdictions for long stretches of 2020, while demand for lodging and accommodations has cratered with more people staying at home and limiting travel. Other industries with higher shares of minority owners, like retail trade and transportation and warehousing, have likewise been affected by shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, reduced consumer demand, and supply chain disruptions. And these difficulties have been compounded by the aforementioned structural barriers, as minority business owners struggled to access government-backed COVID-19 relief measures like the Payroll Protection Program.


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Chart3 Hawaii and California are home to the most minority-owned startups

Despite all these challenges, today there are nearly 170 thousand minority-owned startups in the U.S., employing over 700 thousand people and generating close to $100 billion in annual revenue. Based on demographic trends, these numbers are likely to grow as the population continues to diversify on racial and ethnic lines. Unsurprisingly, states with higher minority populations—including “majority-minority” California and Hawaii—also lead in the percentage of startups that are minority-owned.

At the city level, the story is much the same. While areas with large minority populations also tend to have higher concentrations of minority-owned startups, minorities remain underrepresented in small business ownership relative to their population levels. To show this trend, researchers at Self Financial used Census data to calculate the percentage of startup businesses—defined as firms less than two years old—that are minority-owned and the minority population share in each metro area. Researchers also included each metro’s total number of minority-owned startups, along with their number of employees and total annual sales.

Here are the cities with the most minority-owned startups.

Chart4 Small and midsize metros with the most minority-owned startups

Large Metros With the Most Minority-Owned Startups

15 Virginia Richmond-EM4W20
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

15. Richmond, VA

  • Percentage of startups that are minority-owned: 19.56%
  • Number of startups that are minority-owned: 617
  • Total employees at minority-owned startups: 2,976
  • Annual sales at minority-owned startups: $260,076,000
  • Minority population share: 42.71%

14 Illinois Chicago GWBF62
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

14. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI

  • Percentage of startups that are minority-owned: 20.37%
  • Number of startups that are minority-owned: 5,275
  • Total employees at minority-owned startups: 19,635
  • Annual sales at minority-owned startups: $2,785,820,000
  • Minority population share: 47.10%

13 Maryland Baltimore GYFB3E
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

13. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

  • Percentage of startups that are minority-owned: 22.39%
  • Number of startups that are minority-owned: 1,460
  • Total employees at minority-owned startups: 5,053
  • Annual sales at minority-owned startups: $764,077,000
  • Minority population share: 43.45%

12 Washington Seattle EBPD1F
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

12. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

  • Percentage of startups that are minority-owned: 22.66%
  • Number of startups that are minority-owned: 2,937
  • Total employees at minority-owned startups: 13,133
  • Annual sales at minority-owned startups: $1,576,032,000
  • Minority population share: 36.72%

11 Nevada Las Vegas ENFCG2
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

11. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV

  • Percentage of startups that are minority-owned: 23.80%
  • Number of startups that are minority-owned: 1,624
  • Total employees at minority-owned startups: 5,946
  • Annual sales at minority-owned startups: $926,653,000
  • Minority population share: 57.23%

10 Florida Orlando-EGFHBF
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

10. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL

  • Percentage of startups that are minority-owned: 23.89%
  • Number of startups that are minority-owned: 2,279
  • Total employees at minority-owned startups: 6,472
  • Annual sales at minority-owned startups: $920,034,000
  • Minority population share: 53.32%

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09 Texas Dallas-K5DATJ
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

9. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

  • Percentage of startups that are minority-owned: 24.12%
  • Number of startups that are minority-owned: 5,190
  • Total employees at minority-owned startups: 25,714
  • Annual sales at minority-owned startups: $3,382,747,000
  • Minority population share: 53.97%

08 Missouri Saint Louis-R162EH
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

8. St. Louis, MO-IL

  • Percentage of startups that are minority-owned: 25.03%
  • Number of startups that are minority-owned: 2,279
  • Total employees at minority-owned startups: 4,019
  • Annual sales at minority-owned startups: $193,558,000
  • Minority population share: 26.27%

07 District of Columbia EP3YA6
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

7. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

  • Percentage of startups that are minority-owned: 29.23%
  • Number of startups that are minority-owned: 4,599
  • Total employees at minority-owned startups: 16,729
  • Annual sales at minority-owned startups: $2,480,180,000
  • Minority population share: 54.50%

06 New York New York M3DGHF
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

6. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

  • Percentage of startups that are minority-owned: 29.93%
  • Number of startups that are minority-owned: 22,544
  • Total employees at minority-owned startups: 67,660
  • Annual sales at minority-owned startups: $11,803,829,000
  • Minority population share: 54.14%

05 Texas Houston-G6NFJ9
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

5. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

  • Percentage of startups that are minority-owned: 30.45%
  • Number of startups that are minority-owned: 5,599
  • Total employees at minority-owned startups: 22,735
  • Annual sales at minority-owned startups: $3,145,123,000
  • Minority population share: 63.85%

04 Texas San Antonio-G6NFFP
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

4. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

  • Percentage of startups that are minority-owned: 30.86%
  • Number of startups that are minority-owned: 1,675
  • Total employees at minority-owned startups: 8,871
  • Annual sales at minority-owned startups: $1,076,705,000
  • Minority population share: 66.32%

03 California Riverside-EHNK2D
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

3. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

  • Percentage of startups that are minority-owned: 34.07%
  • Number of startups that are minority-owned: 3,540
  • Total employees at minority-owned startups: 19,527
  • Annual sales at minority-owned startups: $2,013,083,000
  • Minority population share: 67.88%

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02 California Los Angeles-EFCXDH
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2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

  • Percentage of startups that are minority-owned: 34.70%
  • Number of startups that are minority-owned: 17,221
  • Total employees at minority-owned startups: 69,107
  • Annual sales at minority-owned startups: $11,788,812,000
  • Minority population share: 70.36%

01 California San Jose-2AGFDKN
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

  • Percentage of startups that are minority-owned: 46.01%
  • Number of startups that are minority-owned: 2,796
  • Total employees at minority-owned startups: 11,469
  • Annual sales at minority-owned startups: $1,808,320,000
  • Minority population share: 68.38%

Detailed Findings & Methodology

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Business Survey, which includes all U.S. businesses with paid employees. To identify the locations with the most minority-owned startup businesses, researchers calculated the percentage of all startup businesses (firms less than two years old) that are minority owned. The researchers also calculated the minority population share of each geographic region (defined as the percentage of the total population that does not identify as non-Hispanic white) by using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey. To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 residents were included. Additionally, metros were grouped into cohorts based on population size: small (100,000–349,999), midsize (350,000–999,999), and large (1,000,000 or more).

About the author

Lauren Bringle is an Accredited Financial Counselor® and Content Marketing Manager with Self Financial – a financial technology company with a mission to help people build credit and savings.

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Written on January 15, 2021
Self is a venture-backed startup that helps people build credit and savings. Comments? Questions? Send us a note at hello@self.inc.

Disclaimer: Self is not providing financial advice. The content presented does not reflect the view of the Issuing Banks and is presented for general education and informational purposes only. Please consult with a qualified professional for financial advice.

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