Finally, African American entrepreneurs are grabbing some much-deserved spotlight.
African American women represent the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S., with the number of business owners growing by 67.5 percent between 2007 and 2012, according to the National Women's Business Council. Over a longer period, from 1997 to 2015, that group grew by a massive 322 percent, according to this year's State of Women-Owned Businesses report, published in August.
Overall, there are nearly 2.6 million firms led by African Americans in the U.S, compared with 1.9 million in 2007, according to the most recent available data from U.S. Census Bureau.
Inc.'s own data counts 86 fast-growing companies helmed by African American entrepreneurs in 2015. While that represents just 2 percent of all companies on the Inc. 5000--a number that's on par with prior years' tallies--a growing body of entrepreneurs declined to comment on their racial identity, 817 in total. (Each year, Inc. tabulates a list of the fastest-growing private companies in America, based on three-year revenue growth rates.)
From varied sectors such as security, construction, financial services, and government work, meet the standout companies with African American CEOs--two of whom are women--on the 2015 Inc. 5000:
Chief executive Robert Cottingham grew sales for his Newark, New Jersey-based government contractor, Sabre88, by 671 percent since 2011, landing the company squarely at No. 677 on the list. The company partners with federal government agencies, providing services such as telecommunications support, data entry, and financial consulting. It brought in $2.5 million in 2014.
Based in Los Angeles, Payscout is headed up by CEO Cleveland Brown. As its name perhaps implies, the company processes credit card transactions and provides other banking services for e-commerce retailers. Between 2011 and 2014, Payscout grew its revenues by 1,078 percent, seeing $5.7 million in sales last year alone. It makes its second appearance on the Inc. 5000 at No. 434 this year.
8. Michael Grant and Company
Founded just five years ago, Michael Grant and Company is seeing breakneck growth by consulting with businesses, nonprofits, and even religious congregations on how to improve their corporate structure. Today, the Newark, New Jersey-based company is led by Michael Grant, who helped lift sales from just $225,000 to $3.2 million between 2011 and 2014. That wins it the No. 355th spot on Inc.'s 2015 list.
7. Spotswood Consulting
Spotswood Consulting is an IT services company based in Irvine, California. With only 50 total employees at the time of application, the firm achieved an impressive growth of 1,439 percent growth since 2011, bringing in $2.3 million in sales last year. The company is headed up by Derek Spotswood, and makes Inc.'s list for the first time, at No. 325.
6. Favor TechConsulting
Serving both businesses and government organizations, Favor TechConsulting is an Arlington, Virginia-based company whipping up an impressive $11.8 million in 2014 annual sales. That's a 1,754 percent increase from 2011. Led by Vaseal Montgomery, the business makes its first appearance on the Inc. 5000 this year, at No. 256.
5. Capital Consulting Services
Capital Consulting Services may be a decade old, but it isn't slowing down. With 1,904 percent revenue growth between 2011 and 2014, it is No. 231 on Inc.'s list of fastest-growing private companies. Based in St. Louis and led by CEO Tracey Clark-Jefferies, Capital Consulting raked in $2.1 million last year alone.
4. Environmental Construction Services
This eco-friendly construction firm aims to deliver positive change, while growing its revenues. Environmental Construction Services saw $7.3 million in sales in 2014, which was 1,907 percent uptick from 2011. Michael Brown is the chief executive, and the company comes in at No. 229 on this year's list.
3. Pontchartrain Partners
This New Orleans-based company is led by CEO Danny Blanks, and has helped to revitalize the local community after the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. Pontchartrain Partners, which is named after the city's Lake Pontchartrain, brought in $25 million in sales last year, earning it the No. 183rd spot on the 2015 Inc. 5000.
2. VETS etc.
This company provides a variety of consulting services, both to businesses and to federal defense agencies. Based in Seaside, California, the aptly named VETS etc. brought in more than $22 million in sales last year, representing a three-year growth rate of 3,017 percent. The company, which is headed up by military veteran John Nash, makes the Inc. 5000 for the third year in a row at No. 116. Last year, it ranked No. 203.
1. Lynx Technology Partners
The fastest-growing private company on the 2015 Inc. 5000 with an African American at the helm is Lynx Technology Partners. Aric Perminter heads up the New York City-based business, which brought in nearly $8 million in sales in 2014--marking a 3,740 percent growth rate since 2011. As the fifth fastest-growing private company in the New York metro area, Lynx makes the overall list at No. 80.