Re-Centering Race in Emancipatory Entrepreneurship: Black Female Tech Founders, Money, and Meaning in a Detroit-Based Incubator Program


  • Shuang L. Frost
  • Yuson Jung
  • Marlo Rencher
  • Dawn Batts



This study is an anthropological inquiry into the perceptions and attitudes of Black female tech entrepreneurs towards capitalism in the context of an incubator program in Detroit, USA. Drawing upon ethnographic data from the STEM Entrepreneurial Excellence Program (STEEP), the study reveals the intricate relationships that Black female founders maintain with money and capitalism. These complexities manifest in moral quandaries related to fundraising and distrust in outsourcing financial management, emanating from a long-standing scepticism towards capitalism and intertwined with historical traumas. The research emphasizes the significance of comprehending minority entrepreneurs’ historical inequalities and lived experiences with capitalism to discern their diverse attitudes and performances in entrepreneurship – an aspect frequently neglected in entrepreneurship scholarship. By examining the intersection of race, gender, and entrepreneurship, the essay contributes valuable insights into the nuanced dynamics shaping entrepreneurial experiences of Black women in the technology sector.

Author Biographies

Shuang L. Frost

is Assistant Professor of Digital Innovation and Business Transformation at Aarhus University, Denmark. Her research interests include platform revolution, urban mobility, informal organizing of gig economy, artificial intelligence, and female entrepreneurship. In her research, she aims to use ethnographic approaches to investigate how digital technologies intersect with socioeconomic transformations in society. She is currently the principal investigator of Cultivating Women Tech Founders, a three-year research project supported by Independent Research Fund Denmark.

Shuang Frost can be reached at

Yuson Jung

is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of Graduate Studies at Wayne State University (Detroit, Michigan). Her research explores issues of consumption, food politics, globalization and postsocialism, and entrepreneurship infrastructure. Since 2021, she has been part of a research team studying an entrepreneurship education program and Black female tech entrepreneurship in Detroit. She leads the Business and Organizational Anthropology program at Wayne State University.

Yuson Jung can be reached at

Marlo Rencher

is president of Detroit Means Business, an organization dedicated to connecting Detroit small businesses to the resources they need to succeed. She is a co-founder at Commune Angels, an inclusive network of angel investors. Currently, she is engaged in research on Black women tech founders. She earned an undergraduate degree in Marketing from Michigan State University, an MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and a PhD in Business and Organizational Anthropology from Wayne State University.

Marlo Rencher can be reached at

Dawn Batts

is the president of Milestone Growth Capital Institute, an organization committed to identifying alternative funding models for early-stage entrepreneurs and increasing the knowledge and access to capital in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. She is co-founder at Commune Angels, an inclusive network of angel investors. Her research focuses on Black women tech founders, Black women high growth founders, and Black women angel investors. Dawn has an undergraduate degree in Accounting from Michigan State University, an MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and a PhD in Business and Organizational Anthropology from Wayne State University.

Dawn Batts can be reached at


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