Market Women
Black Women Entrepreneurs: Past, Present, and Future
by Cheryl A. Smith
June 2005, 296pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-98379-6
$84, £63, 70€, A120
Paperback: 978-0-313-36183-8
$25, £19, 21€, A36
eBook Available: 978-0-313-02101-5
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Explores the African roots of entrepreneurship among black women, and demonstrates their unique approaches to achieving business success.

In stark contrast to popular belief, women of the African Diaspora have engaged in economic and leadership activities throughout the course of history. Black women around the world draw from a tradition of thousands of years of strategies that have enabled them to face and conquer the challenges of life as women of color. And yet today, black women are marginalized by an economic and financial community still dominated by white men. In Market Women, educator, activist, and entrepreneur Cheryl Smith sets the record straight, applying insights from a variety of fields to trace the roots of black women’s entrepreneurship, as it is currently practiced in the United States. Featuring in-depth interviews with 19 present-day entrepreneurs (in ventures as diverse as catering, bookselling, millinery, and construction), Smith reveals an approach to business that is based on personal relationships, pooling of resources, a sense of humor, apprenticeship and mentoring, and strong mother-daughter bonds that defy traditional definitions of business success, wealth creation, and power. In the process she gives voice to a long-disenfranchised group whose struggles and triumphs in business illuminate universal themes that transcend race and gender. The result is a rich and unique study of business from a fresh and eye-opening perspective and an inspiring account of achieving success against tremendous odds.


"Smith has produced an invaluable study of black women entrepreneurs....Smith contends that black women have historically possessed certain qualities of leadership, rooted in their personal life experiences, which make them ideally suited for business success while they nonetheless remain challenged by structural racism and sexism. Smith also discusses the impact of education for those who have succeeded in the business world. Part spiritual memoir, part sociological study, this book is written by an author who is an entrepreneur herself. She argues for a reconsideration of the way in which this society defines success in business as it rethinks business education and attempts to expand opportunities for all. Highly recommended. All collections."—Choice, January 1, 2006

"Cheryl-Smith's work fills a void by documenting the history of black women entrepreneurs over centuries. Her publication is a good source in Women's Studies....The title is suitable in academic libraries for undergraduate students enrolled in Women's Studies as well as in public libraries for general understanding of the black business history."—Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, November 4, 2006

"[F]ascinating stories of individual experiences that Smith spins into life about business....Smith's focus on community networks rather than individualism as the basis for business is a useful critique of the boot-strap notion of entreneurship. The book is written with energy and spirit, and one can only applaud Smith's notion that the things that matter in life--community, family, social betterment--should be part of how we understand the history of business....Smith's claim that African American businesswomen do business differently from other women remains intriguing."—Business History, July 1, 2006

"Smith uses the term market women to evoke images of women selling their wares in a public marketplace, a group that can be thought of as the most basic set of women entrepreneurs....The vignettes on each of the entrpreneurial women are made even more interesting due to the wide range of businesses they are involved in - from bankers to publishers to shopkeepers. Smith is able to infuse the entrepreneurs' stories with a vibrant existence that allows us to follow their day-to-day reality by drawing on her own experiences as an entrepreneur."—MultiCultural Review, April 1, 2006

"Smith presents a history of black women entrepreneurs, from Africa's traditional market women to today's American CEOs. Drawing upon interviews with 19 contemporary entrepreneurs (in ventures as diverse as catering, bookselling, and manufacturing), Smith reveals a community-minded approach to business that is based on personal relationships. She also shows how the pooling of resources, strong family bonds, and a sense of humor have helped these women to succeed against the odds."—Reference & Research Book News, November 1, 2005
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