A North Texas organization is guiding women, particularly women of color, through the sometimes overwhelming process of starting a business.
When it comes to entrepreneurs in Dallas-Fort Worth, eight out of 10 businesses are started by women of color like Amber Sheikh and Anna Munoz.
“I started Apex Language Institute in November 2019,” Sheikh said.
She’s landed government contracts teaching languages not commonly taught.
Munoz opened her residential construction company, ARC Restorations, in Dec. 2019.
“All my jobs have been in construction, so it’s really a passion for me,” she said.
LiftFund guided both women in their dreams of opening their own businesses.
The micro-finance organization aims to empower females, especially women of color, by offering many services, including business training, SBA loans and mentorship between women.
“Traditionally, women are underfunded when it comes to their small business,” LiftFund Dallas’ director Tarsha Hearns said.
All three women said they believed starting a business is full of obstacles for many women, especially minorities.
“As women and as minorities we may not be taken as seriously,” Munoz said.
“There’s like a psychological stress as well as a financial stress and between the two of them you kind of have to push through,” Sheikh said.
Hearns said women often consider what impact their endeavor will have on their family, leading some to abandon their dreams.
Another challenge, Hearns said, was to close a disparity gap that exists between minority and white female entrepreneurs.
“There is an opportunity for women of color to make a huge economic impact in our economy if we were to level the playing field,” Hearns said.
These women urge others to seek available resources. Sheikh, for example, sought out and received a "woman-owned certification" at no cost.
“[With it] you’ll have access to corporations in government agencies at the federal, state and local level who are seeking to do business with women,” she said.
LiftFund is partially funded by the Small Business Administration and urges women to come forward to learn more about the process and available resources.
These women hope to pave the way for others.
“I think we can be role models for other women, that we can do it,” Munoz said.
Hearns said LiftFund also helped businesses struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic and said there is available assistance through its "business resiliency program."