Black women who own businesses fight against wave of closures

WASHINGTON — If Jeannine Cook had waited another month to open her bookstore, it probably wouldn’t exist.

Cook, the owner of Harriet’s Bookshop in Philadelphia, opened her doors in February. A month later, the pandemic hit and the questions came. “Is this life telling me like stop this stupid idea? Or is this life telling me I need to figure out how to go harder?” she remembered asking herself. “I knew, as an entrepreneur, that was a part of it. I just didn’t know to this extent.”

Women and minority-owned businesses were on the rise prior to the pandemic— and Black women were starting businesses at a quicker clip than anyone else. From 2014 to 2019, the number of women-owned businesses grew 21 percent while firms owned by women of color grew at double that rate, according to an annual report on women in business by American Express.

The pandemic

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