The paper discusses business activities in the inner city of Cleveland Ohio, with specific emphasis on business creation and ownership of the African Americans in this location. The paper enables the reader to understand why there has been a lag in the establishment ...
The paper discusses business activities in the inner city of Cleveland Ohio, with specific emphasis on business creation and ownership of the African Americans in this location. The paper enables the reader to understand why there has been a lag in the establishment of African American business in comparison to their population in the inner city. In the whole of Cuyahoga County there are 33,000 businesses which have paid employees but only 932 of these are owned by African Americans who constitute 51 per cent of the population, a paltry 2.8 per cent. In the Cleveland inner city, which is part of Cayoga County, the Afro-American constitute approximately 75 percent of the population, while they own less than 10 percent of the enterprises. A belief that creating and owning a business gives one self-respect, independence and is more lucrative than working for wages is more common among other ethnic communities in the inner city than it is among the African Americans. The inner city African American tend to be welfare dependence and perpetually in a cycle of poverty, while the other ethnic communities form strong bonding that enables them to support one another. Besides utilizing their strong social groups, these communities, namely the Chinese-Americans, East Indian Americans, and Vietnamese provide their members with the required socio-economic and institutional infrastructure and networks, to create, develop and own business. This paper then argues that, for there to be an improvement in business creation development and ownership within this community, programs to address the lack of co-ethnic social capital and networks should be given priority. The paper utilizes the literature in small business, as well as rich literature on race and ethnic enterprises. It also captures the experience of the author, who has been involved in enterprise development in Kenya as a mentor for the last twenty years. In this paper an entrepreneur is defined as a person who presently operates a small business that she/he started. Key words: Inner city; African-American, Social capital, Mentoring, Networks.