Quanisha Green, MSS is the Founder of Black Woman CEO. A global hub that has touched over 27,000 women since its founding in June 2015. Black Woman CEO combines research with culturally-relevant business coaching and training to meet the unique needs of Black women around the world. When not teaching and coaching, you can find Quanisha hanging out with her husband and two sons. To stay connected, visit: Blackwomanceo.com
I’m Quanisha Green, and I teach Black women how to own their expertise and grow a business that they love based on it. My Teachable school, Black Woman CEO, is full of programs and resources that combine my background in entrepreneurship with my graduate research on Black women’s identity formation and their subsequent leadership experiences.
Through my programs and courses, I empower Black women entrepreneurs to grow their confidence around who they are and what they can do simply based on their skills, knowledge, and talents. I came to this work by way of my own journey grappling with trying to complete this sentence, “I’m an expert in…”
Taking ownership of expertise
It started in 2014 when I earned a scholarship to attend a workshop, Write to Change the World with leaders at the Op-Ed Project. At the start of the class, they asked me and thirteen other women to introduce ourselves with this statement: “I am an expert in…”
The reactions of participants’ discomforts ranged from verbal resistance to the “patriarchal notion” of expertise to stammering over one’s words: “I am not going to brag; I am too young to be an expert; I’ve only been in my field for ten years.”
Ultimately, the Yale doctoral student, the Princeton professor, the nonprofit executive directors, the consultant to the White House, and the other nine women in the room, including myself, all conceded that we were indeed experts on a unique topic specific to our individual lived experiences. What really stuck with me from this experience is how this simple statement had and continues to have major implications for Black women.
Various studies demonstrate Black women make up a small minority of staff journalists at major publications across the United States (about 7% of those reported). While Black women consume a larger portion of new and traditional media, they narrate and create less of it. Also, they are the least represented in public discourse despite being one of the most educated groups in the United States. So with all this, I started to wonder: Who is narrating the Black women’s experience? Is her voice not being heard because of the choices of these publications, or her inability to see that her voice deserves to be heard?
To say this moment was impactful, would be an understatement. This question led me to change my whole graduate research focus so I could examine the unique experiences of Black women in the United States when it came to leadership. The answer to that question would catapult me into a new reality of not only sharing the news of systematic things in place to silence their voice, alongside solutions of how to co-create solutions that would benefit us all. Without a clear roadmap, I trusted the voice within me as being enough, and would eventually empower other Black women to go through the same process of creating a space for their voice. I leveraged this research along with my background in entrepreneurship and community organizing into a business that I love.
The beginnings of Black Woman CEO
To date, my work has touched over 27,000 women, and our platform has over 65,000 followers. One reason for this success is Black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs. Trusting that I and my research could fill gaps and bring forth solutions in a new way, I built one of the first online platforms combining research with proven strategies to meet the unique needs of Black women in entrepreneurship. Common to most entrepreneurs, the voice of doubt would arise and every time it tried to rear its ugly head, I would remind it that “I AM an Expert and I AM Here to Serve Black Women!”
On average, Black women make the least gross revenue in the United States (approximately, $24,000/year). I, for one, have a serious problem with this and made it my mission to address this disparity.
So, how do Black women begin to address these disparities? It was a simple solution: Own their knowledge. Learn the skills. Claim their “Expert” status.
Yes, it’s that simple; however, it takes work. Entrepreneurship is one of the greatest personal development tools as it will trigger all your beliefs around your limitations. For example, here are some thoughts past program participants shared when I asked them: What comes to mind when you think about getting out there, claiming your expertise, and raising your prices?
“I don’t think people will want to work with me or hire me.”
“I don’t want to outprice myself. What if it’s out of the reach of my target audience.”
“OK, I want to raise my prices but I’m afraid no one will…I’m guessing that no one will buy.”
“A lot comes up around me being enough- am I SMART enough, good enough, knowledgeable enough.”
“What if someone copies my idea, does it better, takes all of my clients and I fail? So I put myself out there. I have to guard my gifts, not share them.”
I, too, struggled with the same thoughts. However, I’ve learned to act despite my personal fears and misconceptions. I do it afraid. I jump and see where I land so that I can make an informed decision, not a decision based on speculation. This is why my work doesn’t solely consist of “Do it yourself” coursework but is made up of a hybrid approach that combines community, coaching, and coursework.
For example, studies show community is a protective factor for Black women. Therefore, I incorporate a community component in everything we do so our participants feel safe and are reminded that they are not alone.
My goal is for members of my community to shift their self-perceptions and build a legacy by creating their own platforms and businesses. Therefore, I incorporate coaching centered around Black women and their unique experiences. The culturally-relevant coaching involves psychological frameworks to challenge our members’ limiting beliefs and address their fears.
For the coursework component, I focus on delivering proven business growth strategies. My team and I work to ensure our members are equipped with the tools, resources, and skills they need to turn their expertise into a revenue-generating business.
I believe when we give Black women entrepreneurs culturally-relevant guidance, a safe community, and proven strategies, we’ll not only see dramatically different outcomes in their self-perception and financial growth, but we will also see a major impact on our country and the world.