About Talia Whyte

Posts by Talia Whyte:

Why Women Entrepreneurs Are Lagging Behind

On My Mind...

A new Congressional report reveals that while women entrepreneurs now make up to 30 percent of small business owners in the United States and collectively earn $3 trillion every year, we are still lagging in gaining access to capital, federal government contracting and small business training and counseling.

Here are some key findings:

1. Women entrepreneurs still face challenges getting fair access to capital.

The report says that women entrepreneurs only receive four percent of small business loans and seven percent of venture funding.  The number of women venture capitalists has also decreased.

2. Women entrepreneurs still face challenges getting equal access to federal contracts.

The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Procurement Program was created by Congress 20 years ago to increase contracting opportunities for women at a time when only two percent of them received contracts.  It set a goal to reach five percent.  In 2012, the rate only went up to four percent.  Women entrepreneurs are potentially missing out on $4 billion in federal contracts annually.

3. Women entrepreneurs still face challenges getting relevant business training and counseling.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has made efforts to establish Women’s Business Centers all over the country, but they are not being utilized well.  Because they have not been re-authorized since the 1990s, these centers are lacking funding to modernize.

Here are my thoughts:

I have been an entrepreneur for a long time and I will tell you that I have had trouble in all three areas. I think poor advertising is a big problem.  As far as capital is concerned, access to it is still very much a part of the old boys network.  You have to already know the right people to get money.  Since these networks are traditionally male dominated, women are left out.

Federal contracting is difficult to come by for both male and female entrepreneurs.  When I first started bidding on U.S. government contracts five years ago, I found it to be a very tedious affair. Doing any business with the federal government involves a lot of bureaucracy and red tape.  The website, https://www.fbo.gov/, is very difficult to navigate and find the right opportunities.  And then when you do find an opportunity you qualify for, the process for applying for it is also agonizing.  There are plenty of opportunities that are tagged specifically for women and minority entrepreneurs on that website, but finding them is like a needle in a haystack.

Training and counseling through women’s centers and the local SCORE office has been hit and miss for me. The real problem is that these programs lack modernity. I remember going to SCORE once and wanted to speak to a mentor about setting up a business structure and getting help with marketing.  I was set up with this older gentleman who was a retired executive.  He was a nice man, but he seemed to lack the necessary skillsets to be helpful to me.  I would ask him where I could learn more about government contracts online that were specific to what my business sells, he said he didn’t know.  “I don’t even do email, so I certainly can’t help you with that,” he said.

Here are my suggestions:

Better marketing to capital and contracting opportunities to women, minorities and low income entrepreneurs is vital.  This is can done with a better online strategy and modern websites that are easier to navigate.  It looks like the federal government is taking steps to do just that.  Also, the contract application process needs to be made easier.  The government is possibly missing out on hiring from a more diverse pool of contractors because applicants have to jump through too many hoops. It would also be helpful to get counseling from entrepreneurs who can teach you how to apply for capital, contracting and how business is done in 2014.  It would be more useful to get counseling from experienced male and female entrepreneurs who are still working and can give relevant advice.

Luckily for me, I was able to find the right mentors who helped me out with finding capital, contracting and counseling.  However, not everyone has that same luck, so that is why I point out this report.  There is still a lot of work that needs to be done to help out women and other diverse entrepreneurs.

Where I Get Business News

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I have been an entrepreneur for most of my professional career, first as a freelance journalist and then as the founder of my media firm Global Wire Associates.  I started GWA as the sole employee writing on my first blog in 2005. Today I employ a team of 10 people and service hundreds of clients in over 60 countries.  In the last two years alone, my revenue has grown since I launched a digital imprint and a creative studio. I didn’t go to business school.  Much of what I know about running my businesses comes from good intuition, taking risks and learning from my mistakes.

I also learn from reading a lot of publications that provide insight and resources on business trends.

Here is where I get my business news:

Inc. – This is a great magazine for both new and experienced entrepreneurs.  I like that most of the articles are written by real entrepreneurs who share their experiences and best practices.  Also, as a web designer, I really appreciate the responsive design of the website.

Fast Company – This is right up my alley – business, technology and design.  This magazine is great because it focuses on how business trends impact the future.  It also does great interviews with visionaries like Ivan Chermayeff, co-founder of the legendary graphic design firm Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv, the people behind iconic logos like NBC’s rainbow peacock and the MBTA’s T symbol.

Black Enterprise – What I appreciate about this black-owned magazine is that it mostly features pictures of black entrepreneurs on its cover, and not just entertainers and athletes like other black publications.  It’s good to have more stories and images of African-Americans doing positive, entrepreneurial activities.

Your Business – I get up on Sunday mornings to watch this show on MSNBC.  It’s cool to learn about how many small businesses around the country started from humble beginnings and are now thriving.  I also like their board of directors’ advice and elevator speech segments.

Smashing Magazine– This is the premier website to go to for professional web designers and developers.  Most of its content is inside baseball, but many of the entrepreneurial tips can be universally understood.

Wall Street Journal– Well, of course, this is the premier business newspaper of record.  I really like the small business section.

Devex – This is a clearinghouse of news and business opportunities for international development contractors.  This has been very useful in expanding my reach internationally.

The Economist – I read this mainly for international business trends.  I particularly like their blogs and their quirky take on the news, like the rise of the tea industry.

Financial Times – Also a must for international business news. And who doesn’t like to read a pink newspaper!

Other outlets I check out regularly:


Talking Business

African Business

Are there other outlets I should be checking out? Let me know in the comments below or email.

Islam, Racism and Media Bias

Photo Credit: Newd Magazine - Black Jews in NigeriaThe ongoing violence between Israel and Hamas has brought up discussions about media bias.  Many argue that there is a bias by American media outlets to portray Israelis as more valuable than Palestinians.  Others have said there is a racist overtone towards how Hamas and the Palestinians are portrayed in the media.  So what is the role of black journalists in reporting this crisis in a fair and accurate manner?  Many journalists of color have historically gone out of their way to report about issues affecting marginalized communities because those issues affect them too.

However, the Palestine Question has become a third rail issue that no American journalist of any color wants to broach.  The problem is that if you say anything even remotely negative about Israel’s policy towards Palestinians, you are immediately labeled an anti-Semite. This is why they is such an imbalance in coverage.

This issue was examined in a workshop I attended at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) convention last Saturday.   Dr. Akbar Muhammad of the Nation of Islam said that more African-Americans should speak out about the current aggression against the Palestinians, as well as the role of Islam in the African Diaspora.

He was disappointed by President Obama’s lack of political courage to speak out about Israel.  During a press conference last week, Obama said “Israel has a right to defend itself.” Both White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett and State Department’s spokesman Jen Psaki claim to “condemn” the violence in Gaza, but neither of them seem to mention that the weapons Israel is using in Gaza are paid for by U.S. taxpayer money.

Muhammad called upon black journalists to hold White House officials accountable for what they say.

“As journalists, we have to present a different picture that isn’t being presented,” he said.

Palestinians are not the only ones suffering under Israel’s occupation.  In recent months there have been documented accounts and reports of racism against black African immigrants in Israel.  Most of them are refugees or asylum seekers from Eritrea (many of them Jewish) and Sudan.  Many of them have been detained by Israel and put into prisons under seriously inhumane conditions. Last month hundreds of African immigrants staged a hunger strike in protest of the detentions.

Regarding the African Diaspora, Islam is the fastest growing religion on the African continent.  African-Americans make up to nearly a quarter of all Muslims in the United States.  Unfortunately, all Muslims worldwide are viewed through the prism of what’s going on in the Middle East, and specifically through the violent actions of al Qaeda and Boko Haram.  We as black journalists have an obligation to present more balanced discussions about Israel, Muslims of all colors and racism to make sure everyone’s voice is accurately heard.

Public Libraries: The New Innovation Districts?


Three years ago, we wrote a post on Global Wire’s blog about the future of American public libraries.  As print media dies a slow death, I think a lot about how this essential institution for free expression and intellectual stimulation can stay relevant in the digital age.

Previously we had mentioned that libraries could truly become community centers that offer a variety of social services, especially in traditionally underserved communities.

How about this idea: what if public libraries were turned into innovation districts.  It is a trendy term referring to, according to the Brookings Institution, “geographic areas where leading edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with startups, business incubators and accelerators.  They are also physically compact, transit-accessible and technically-wired and offer mixed use housing, offices and retail.”

Here are some ideas:

Housing startups and coworking spaces:  Most public libraries are struggling with limited budgets and resources. Maybe they should consider renting out spaces to local entrepreneurs and their staff who need a space to experiment new ideas for products and services.  Also, many freelancers already use their local libraries as a workspace for the free WiFi.  Maybe libraries could charge premium fees to freelancers for additional amenities like access to copy/print/scan/fax equipment, mail service, storage lockers and private meeting spaces.  The biggest barrier to this is many people probably don’t feel comfortable with libraries housed in taxpayer-funded public buildings taking rent money from private enterprise.  I would argue that if libraries were to rent out the space, it should be to businesses and freelancers who are creating products and services that directly serve and impact the library’s neighborhood, like a community service oriented, social enterprise.  For example, freelance web developers who build websites for local nonprofits or a company that offers entrepreneurship internships for local youth.

Professional development/training spaces for community members: In the previous post on libraries 2.0, we suggested turning libraries into community media centers, where people can come learn how to use their use e-readers, download free e-books and audiobooks and learn how to better use the Internet.  I would go one step further and suggest libraries offer both free and paid sessions on professional development issues like job search and interviewing skills and salary negotiation.  It would also offer vocational training like entrepreneurship, marketing, graphic design and web development.  Considering that unemployment is still pretty high in many communities, these services could offer great opportunities for those still looking for jobs or new careers.  Sessions could be taught by local entrepreneurs who want to share their skills with others and identify potential new hires.

Networking/Project Nights: I go to a lot of networking events to meet up with other like-minded professionals, but I have to go all the way downtown to attend them.  It would be nice to host such events at local libraries where I can meet up with people doing interesting things in my own neighborhood.  It would also be pretty cool to have project nights at the library and be able to present and receive feedback on a new idea I am working on.

Those are my new ideas for now.  I am sure I will have new ones to post very soon.