9 Black Female Entrepreneurs You Should Know About
There is no question that entrepreneurship is on the rise, especially among Black women. According to a recent study by American Express, Black women are starting businesses at six times the national average. This is amazing! Black women not only have so much to bring to the table, but their unique experience and perseverance is what has paved away for other Black women to go after their dreams unapologetically. Here are nine Black female entrepreneurs that are leaders in their industries, that we think you should know about!
An obligatory inclusion on our list -- Oprah Winfrey is one of the most well-known Black female entrepreneurs.
She is best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which ran for 25 seasons from 1986 to 2011. During that time, she became the first Black woman to be Forbes magazine's richest American entertainer. As of 2020, she has a net worth of $2.6 billion. Oprah is also an accomplished actress, producer, and philanthropist. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013 and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2010. In addition to her many accomplishments, Oprah is also an inspiration to Black women everywhere who aspire to be successful in their own lives.
Sheila Johnson is a co-founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) and the first African American woman to become a billionaire.
Growing up in inner-city Baltimore, she overcame a lot of obstacles to become the successful businesswoman she is today. In addition to co-founding Black Entertainment Television, she also has her own production company, Salamander Hospitality, and is a highly sought-after speaker and philanthropist. What I admire most about Sheila is her determination and resilience. No matter what life throws her way, she always manages to pick herself up and keep going. She is a true inspiration to all Black women out there who are striving to achieve their goals.
Janice Bryant Howroyd
Janice Bryant Howroyd is the founder and CEO of The ActOne Group, which is the largest Black-owned staffing firm in the world.
Born in North Carolina, she went on to become the first Black woman to own a travel agency and the first Black woman to own an executive search firm. In addition, she has been inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame and the Black Enterprise Industrialists Hall of Fame. Her story is one of hard work, determination, and success. As a young woman, she overcame many obstacles to achieve her dreams. Today, she is an inspiration to Black women everywhere, proving that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.
Angela Benton is the founder and CEO of NewME, a Black Female Entrepreneur-focused accelerator program and venture capital fund. She is also the host of #StartupsEverywhere, a podcast that highlights entrepreneurs in underrepresented communities. In addition, she is a co-founder of #TechInColor, a conference for people of color in tech. As an entrepreneur, she has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Inc., Black Enterprise, and Essence. She was named to Adweek's "Power 100" list and Fast Company's "Most Creative People in Business" list. In addition, she is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Angela's mission is to increase the number of Black and Latino entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and beyond. Through her work with NewME, hundreds of Black and Latino entrepreneurs have been able to raise over $165 million in funding.
In 1998, Kathyn Finney launched her own company, DigitalUndivided (DID), which helps tech startups led by Black and Latinx women succeed. Since then, Kathryn has raised over $4 million in funding for DID and its programs, which have helped over 500 entrepreneurs. In addition to her work with DID, Kathryn is also a sought-after speaker and writer on the topics of entrepreneurship, diversity, and inclusion. In 2017, she was named one of Fast Company's "Most Creative People in Business." Kathryn's work is inspiring Black women all over the world to pursue their dreams and achieve their goals. Thanks to her commitments, countless Black women entrepreneurs are making their mark on the tech industry.
Madame C.J. Walker
Madame C.J. Walker is a Black female entrepreneur who built a haircare empire from the ground up. Born in 1867 to parents who were former slaves, Walker began her career as a hair stylist in St. Louis. She quickly rose to prominence, thanks to her inventive use of pressing combs and lotions to straighten hair. In 1905, she founded the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company, which became the first Black-owned company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. By the time of her death in 1919,Walker was one of the richest self-made women in America. Her legacy continues to inspire Black entrepreneurs around the world.
When she was just eight years old, Maya Penn founded her own company, Maya's Ideas. She was already an accomplished artist and had a strong passion for environmentalism, so she decided to combine her two interests by creating eco-friendly fashion designs. Today, Maya is a successful Black female entrepreneur who has been featured in major publications like Forbes and The Huffington Post. She has also spoken at TEDx events and has been invited to the White House to discuss her work with President Obama. Thanks to her dedication and hard work, Maya has become a role model for young entrepreneurs all over the world.
Tiffany Dufu may not be a household name yet, but she's well on her way to becoming one. As the founder and CEO of The Cru, she is one of the most successful Black female entrepreneurs in the country. And with her new book, Drop the Ball, she is quickly gaining a reputation as a thought leader on work-life balance. But Tiffany's journey to success was not an easy one. Growing up in a working-class home, she was the first in her family to go to college. After graduation, she began her career as a teacher, but quickly realized that it wasn't the right fit for her. She then took a job in the corporate world, where she quickly rose through the ranks. But after having children, Tiffany realized that something had to change. She didn't want to miss out on her children's lives, so she left the corporate world to start her own company. The rest is history!
Black female entrepreneurs are a force to be reckoned with, and Cathy Hughes is no exception. A trailblazer in the world of broadcasting, she is the founder and chairman of Radio One, the largest black-owned radio company in America. She is also the first African American woman to head a publicly traded company. Cathy's accomplishments are all the more impressive given her humble beginnings. Raised in a poor, single-parent household in Omaha, Nebraska, she overcame many obstacles to become one of the most successful media moguls in the country.
These are just a few of the many Black female entrepreneurs making waves in the business world. They are proof that Black women are not only capable of being successful entrepreneurs, but also that we are a force to be reckoned with. We hope this list, along with our own story here at Ade + Ayo, inspires you to pursue your own entrepreneurial dreams!
Janice Bryant Howard: TwitterJanice Bryant Howroyd (@JBryantHowroyd) / Twitter
Angela Benton: Angela BentonAbout Angela Benton — Angela Benton
Maya Penn: Love Our GirlsMaya Penn - Love Our Girls