Entrepreneurs recognize an opportunity to start a new business and use whatever resources are available to them to make the opportunity a steppingstone for success. Historically, African-American entrepreneurs have incorporated ideals of self-help, economic independence and an economic cooperative spirit. Before the Civil War, the opportunity for ownership was a rarity for black Arkansans; however, after 1865, black business ownership began to greatly increase. The end of the Civil War brought freedom and success for some blacks, but it also brought laws that legalized segregation and denied equal opportunities.
The rise of a Jim Crow South, along with a hunger for ownership and economic freedom, created the right environment for blacks to have an opportunity to establish their economic independence. Black business districts began to develop in Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Helena, El Dorado and other Arkansas towns to meet the needs of the underserved black population.
Black entrepreneurs began to succeed in many areas. Blacks began to obtain farmland and establish themselves as successful farmers and businessmen. Blacks also used the trades and occupations they learned as slaves, such as blacksmithing, shoemaking, carpentry, laundering and barbering, as a way to create their own economic success, thus becoming Arkansas's first black entrepreneurs.
Entrepenural Spirit Brochure (2925 KB)