AMES, Iowa – According to the Iowa Data Center, 6.8% of Iowans self-identify as being of Hispanic or Latino origin, an increase of over 160% since 2000. As Iowa’s Hispanic and Latino populations continue to grow, a rural sociologist has studied the unique challenges that members of these populations face when starting a business, particularly when these challenges are compounded by other factors including gender and immigration status.
In the article “Intersectional Dimensions of Entrepreneurship among Immigrant Hispanic Women,” Samuel Mindes, a rural sociologist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, provides insight into the data surrounding these challenges and discusses how immigrant Hispanic women can be better supported as entrepreneurs.
The article, published in the Journal of Small Business Management in May, includes a discussion of incorporation patterns among self-employed Hispanic women, noting that while the number of self-employed Hispanic women increased by 134% between 2001 and 2019 according to the American Community Survey, Hispanic women lag significantly when it comes to incorporating their businesses.
Deciding to incorporate
As Mindes explains, incorporating a business is a legal process that allows business owners to form a corporate entity or company, and serves as an important benchmark of a business owner’s entrepreneurship and business owning education.
“Incorporating a business gives you more protection financially and legally, so there are important benefits to doing it,” he added. “It also suggests that you have more money available to commit to your business, and that you might have more business training. A lot of the disconnect between the number of self-employed Hispanic women and the incorporation patterns among these businesses could be whether people know about the benefits of incorporating a business.”
While Mindes’s study focused on outcomes rather than causal factors, he cites discrimination as a potential contributing factor to this disconnect.
“A key takeaway from these findings is that we need to have policies that consider people who are marginalized in multiple ways,” concluded Mindes. “We may have policies in place to prevent people from being discriminated against, but how can these policies be adapted for those whose experiences overlap into multiple categories of discrimination?”
Considering Iowa’s growing immigrant and Hispanic populations, it is essential to support these populations in a way that accounts for the variety of experiences that individuals have, said Mindes.
“I think the biggest thing is having culturally sensitive business training opportunities that really consider the barriers that particular groups face,” he said. “Not all Hispanic women are the same, and not all immigrants are the same, so it’s important to take individual experiences into account and not apply the same approach to everyone.”
Photo Credit: Hispanic factory worker, by Adriana/stock.adobe.com