On Being an "Other" in Entrepreneurship: Our Voices Matter
Does coming from a disenfranchised, marginalized, or ‘other’ status help develop entrepreneurship?
For me, the answer is a clear yes. I won’t postulate if this is true for everyone, as the systems that create inequality should be dismantled, even if it can help ‘shape’ the skills necessary - nobody should have to live through oppression. However, I do feel I can recognize how the life I have lived has truly shaped me to have the set of “tools'' I carry with me today.
From being homeless and jobless at one point, and surviving off a partner who was a low-wage earner and domestically abusive, I learned how to stretch food, scrape together money, and repurposed materials. I became resourceful in ways I didn’t know were in me, but when it was necessary those skills were there just waiting to be tapped.
It’s the moments of poverty that helped me gain critical research skills while trying to teach myself everything from deep political theory to photography and camera work. I found myself 'enrolled' at YouTube, it became my classroom since school was unattainable at the time.
Even as I have become sicker with chronic illness and my disabilities progress, I have witnessed myself, as well as others within the disabled community, become nearly entrepreneurial just to devise ways to survive, repair our own mobility devices, and research our own illness as our multitude of doctors and western medical systems repetitively fail us.
I stand firmly at the site that these experiences ripened my ability to be a successful entrepreneur. I don't think one is 'born' with these skills. Like anything, some may have a predisposition that makes entrepreneurship likely, but for others, the struggle becomes the mother of invention - teaching us all the small pieces we would need to be able to take on a challenge like starting a new venture, even with many chips stacked against us.
When I consider myself a future entrepreneur, I recognize that I challenge the racist, capitalist, ableist, and heteropatriarchal foundations that businesses of all sizes find themselves building upon, often unknowingly, helping to advance these invisible institutions and social constructs. Although there can be no ethical consumption under capitalism, we still gotta eat and pay rent, while also resisting becoming another empty clog in the capitalist machine.
My hope for inclusivity is to help more people from historically marginalized communities recognize that their perspective and offerings can be used to help support themselves while also bettering their communities. From bringing more women, people with disabilities and neurodivergence,to BIPOC, queer, trans and LGBTQ people into this model of entreprenurial independnce, this look at inclusivity seeks to dismantle economic systems that have kept weath white centric and in the hands of few rather than many.