Rate of black employers increases from 22.84% to 30.19% in ten years; black women unemployment rates falls from 18.2% to 7.7%, reveals study

Stylist Marah Silva, owner of Ateliê Cor Sincretismo
Stylist Marah Silva, owner of Ateliê Cor Sincretismo

Rate of black employers increases from 22.84% to 30.19% in ten years

Among black women unemployment fell from 18.2% to 7.7%, reveals study of economist

by Clarice Spitz

Still unequal, but with advances. Over the past decade, blacks experienced an improvement in employment rates and income. Participation of blacks increased among employers, the most highly paid category of the labor market: in 2003, they accounted for 22.84% of all employers, in 2013, they are already 30.19%, reveals a study by economist Marcelo Paixão about black entrepreneurs. It is true that, when they are in positions of command, blacks are predominantly lower income activities, especially in commerce and services in general, such as hairdressers, haberdasheries, designers and construction workers, where their presence is large. Among black women, the group with the greatest difficulty in entering the labor market, unemployment fell from 18.2% to 7.7%.

Economist Marcelo Paixão
Economist Marcelo Paixão

According to the coordinator of Trabalho e Rendimento do IBGE (Work and Income of the IBGE, Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística or Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), Cimar Azeredo, the improvement in the economy led to career advancement. With higher income, blacks working for themselves could enhance their business and hire an employee, thus becoming an employer.

“It is a significant jump. The labor market is less unequal. There are still the ills of gender, color, young people, but more ameliorated,” Azeredo says.

The disadvantages of black employers are due to lesser savings. With less capital than whites, they usually have business in the service sector, where investments are lower. But the analysis of the last ten years shows that the income of black employers rose 42.59%, while that of white employers, 20.46%.

While in 2003 a black employer received the equivalent of 49.37% of the income of a white employer, today he/she earns 58.43%. According to Paixão, the reduction of these disparities in the labor market are explained in part by the increase in the minimum wage and income transfer programs.

“The income of pretos (blacks) and pardos (mulattos) proportionally increased more than whites in the same range, and such a scenario may have contributed to this movement. The same can be said of average education. On the other hand, one should not dismiss the whole phenomenon of relative growth of pretos and pardos in the population, which also includes the group of employers,” he says.

Paixão is in the field on research commissioned by the Banco Interamericano de Desenvolvimento (BID or Inter-American Development Bank or IDB), which investigates discrimination in access to credit in the country.

“If the employer does not have resources, he/she loses a very big opportunity. Tia Ciata (aunt Ciata) (1) spent her entire life with a tabuleiro (vending board) (1) when she should have had a vending stand,” he illustrates.

For the economist Marcelo Néri, president of the Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada (Ipea (IPEA or the Institute for Applied Economic Research) and interim chief minister of the Secretaria de Assuntos Estratégicos da Presidência (Secretariat of Strategic Affairs of the Presidency), increased education is the key factor for blacks to obtain a command post.

According to Neri, although the profit of uneducated entrepreneurs had been 74.9% lower than persons with 11 or more years of study, between 2003 and 2013, their income rose 29.7% in this period. The education of blacks, in terms of years of study, represents 80% of that of whites, according to the 2010 Census.

“The picture is still favorable to those with education, but the novelty is the film that shows the reduction of inequality,” he states.

The president of the IPEA estimates that what also contributed to the rise of blacks in the labor market was greater pride of the race, which resulted in more people identifying themselves as black in the new generations. According to him, though it is still early to see an effect of the quotas, the chance of someone born in the 1980s that defined him or herself as black is 61% higher than that of one born in the 1940s. In 2011, the chance of someone reporting him or herself as black was 36% higher than in 1998.

“Between 2003 and 2011, 40 million people entered the new middle class and three-quarters are preto and pardo, almost (the same as) the black South African population. This new middle class is the result of pride and increased income,” summarizes Néri.

The businesswoman Lia Vieira says there were many times in which she saw people were surprised with the fact that she owns a travel agency. With customers predominantly of African descent and revenues exceeding R$200,000 (about US$100,000) monthly, Lia says that training was essential for her to get where she is:

Businesswoman Lia Vieira
Businesswoman Lia Vieira

“I value qualification very much. The market is very competitive, and there is only room for those who invest in themselves. The difficulty of the black entrepreneur is that we don’t have accumulated savings, we do not have family legacies.”

The designer Marah Silva says she inherited from the mother, a baiana de acarajé, the entrepreneurial streak. After working with event production and food, she left the informality in 2006 when she opened a fashion workshop in Lapa, in downtown Rio. Last month there were 480 pieces, an accomplishment for the size of the business.

“For the black entrepreneur, unfortunately, color is still a disadvantage, but the attitude is not. I sit with my bank manager and I see the first look and the last. He notes that I know what I’m talking about,” says Marah.

The entrepreneur Josué Elias and family work with a small company of leather accessories and jewelry in the house where they also live, in Cascadura. For him, rather than difficulties of race, micro-entrepreneurs like him suffer with bureaucracy.

“I believe in the work force. With quality, I have broken many barriers. Already there has been discrimination, but it was not the most important (thing).”

Instituto Beleza Natural
Instituto Beleza Natural

The Instituto Beleza Natural network, with 13 salons in three states, was born when the former maid Heloísa Assis, better known as Zica, created a formula to relax curly/kinky hair. Alongside her husband Jair, her brother, Rogério Assis, and friend Leila Velez, Zica created a network that specializes in curly/kinky hair. Today, there are an average of 90,000 customers per month and revenues that rose 27% between 2011 and 2012.

Heloísa (Zica) Assis and one of the models from Instituto Beleza Natural
Heloísa (Zica) Assis and one of the models from Instituto Beleza Natural

“For each institute that we open we generate over a hundred direct jobs,” boasts Zica.

The program REconhecer, hosted by journalist Neide Diniz, discussed the idea of Empreendedorismo Afro (Afro Entrepreneurship) for those who have ventured into the business world or who are thinking about it. Take a look at the discussion here with educator Vanda Ferreira who became the second black Secretary of State in Rio de Janeiro and also the Extraordinary Secretary in Defense and Promotion of Black Populations of the State of Rio de Janeiro. The video is in Portuguese with English subtitles.

Programa REconhecer 05 – Empreendedorismo Afro

Source: O Globo


1. Hilária Batista de Almeida, known as Tia (Aunt) Ciata (born in Santo Amaro da Purificação, Bahia in 1854 — died in Rio de Janeiro in 1924) was a cook and mãe de santo (2), considered by many as one of the influential figures in the emergence of the Samba music style in Rio de Janeiro. She was also a leading figure in the spread of black culture in the slums of Rio that began to appear in the early 20th century. She was a housewife who brought together musicians in her home they met and where the first recorded Samba, “Pelo Telefone”, was created. The song was composed by Donga (Ernesto Joaquim Maria dos Santos 1889-1974) and Mauro de Almeida (1882-1956).

Photo of Tia Ciata and a depiction of her with her tabuleira
Photo of Tia Ciata and a depiction of her with her tabuleira

Tia Ciata was born in Santo Amaro da Purificação, Bahia, in 1854 and at age 22, she took the Samba de Roda to Rio de Janeiro. She was the most famous of the tias baianas (mostly black mães de santo of the Candomblé religion (2) that left the city of Salvador in Bahia because of police persecution of the religion) at the beginning of the 20th century; these women were black Bahians who relocated to Rio de Janeiro especially in the last decade of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century.

To support her daughter, she began working as a quituteira (vendor of sweets) on Sete de Setembro street, always dressed in her baiana attire. It was through the food that she expressed her religious convictions or her Candomblé faith. It was a religion of African origin that was banned and persecuted in those times. She also sold baiana styled clothing including the rounded skirts, turbans and various necklaces and bracelets always in a color that would honor an orixá (2). Her wide tabuleiro (vending tray) was always full of cakes and delicacies that were the delight of consumers of all social classes. Source: Wiki

2. For more on mães-de-santo, Candomblé and orixás, see the notes section of this post.

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About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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