The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has increased the obstacles facing Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women-owned enterprises.
Despite being a fast-growing group of business owners, AAPI women confront structural challenges and have limited access to capital, which is made worse by the pandemic’s effects on sectors like dining, retail, and personal care services. According to Hello Alice, their access to financial resources is further hampered by language problems and a lack of banking connections.
AAPI women have borne the harshest economic consequences of the Covid-19 crisis, including business closures, job losses, and increased caregiving responsibilities. However, data on their experiences remains limited and fragmented. AAPI Women’s Equal Pay Day highlights the persistent wage gap, with AAPI women earning $0.92 for every dollar earned by white men, according to the National Women’s Law Center. This wage gap, if unaddressed, could result in AAPI women losing around $267,000 over a 40-year career.
AAPI women also face significant challenges in accessing grants, loans, and capital, despite their entrepreneurial potential. Only a small fraction of federal funding provided through programs like the Paycheck Protection Program reaches AAPI-owned businesses.
FoundHer, a small business accelerator founded by Gloria Lau and Bella Hughes, aims to bridge this funding gap. It focuses on Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Asian women entrepreneurs in Hawaii, providing non-dilutive grant funds and resources to support their businesses.
Historical patterns indicate that women of color, including AAPI women, are often the first to feel the negative effects of economic downturns and the last to recover, but despite all the obstacles, AAPI women entrepreneurs exhibit resilience and resourcefulness.