3 African American Female Entrepreneurs You Should be Following
African American female entrepreneurs inspire women and minorities on a daily basis. Here are 3 entrepreneurs who have created waves in their industries.
African American female entrepreneurs are taking the game by storm and you need to be following them!
Whether it’s Oprah Winfrey, Beyoncé, or a small business owner, there are numerous things you can learn from these entrepreneurs.
According to the 2020 Annual Business Survey, there were approximately 1.1 million minority-owned businesses in the United States. Only 134,567 of those were black-owned. These numbers don't include whether or not these businesses were female-owned. That's why it's crucial to support and learn from African American female entrepreneurs. Here's a list of women you should be following and supporting.
Janice Bryant Howroyd
Hailing from Tarboro, North Carolina, Janice Bryant Howroyd is a female entrepreneur who has made her name loud and clear. Being one of 11 children, Howroyd had to stay scrappy for her ideals. She went to an all-white school, where she faced discrimination and racism. Despite the obstacles, she won a full-ride scholarship to North Carolina A&T State University, where she obtained her bachelor's degree and eventually a doctorate in humanities.
Howroyd moved to Los Angeles after her schooling and went to work at Billboard as her brother-in-law's assistant. From there, she found her strengths in organization and employee placement, which led her to take a chance in August of 2003 when she saved her money, borrowed funds from her family, and started ACT*1 Personnel Services — now known as AppleOne.
The company grew to a $10 million evaluation in just a few years. Since then, she's opened more than 70 office branches across the United States and has worked with companies such as Ford, Motor Company, and the Gap. The company continues to grow and develop to this day. One thing you can learn from Janice Bryant Howroyd is:
"Never compromise who you are personally to become who you wish to be professionally. That means you only do business with a company you'd send a relative to, and you look to work with companies you can get repeat business from. That's how I measure success."
Ursula Burns was the first African American woman to take on the CEO role of a Fortune 500 company, Xerox Corporation. Burns was also the first female to accede to this position after another female. Although she served as CEO and chairman from 2009 to 2017, Burns had her start much earlier.
Ursula Burns was the middle child of three and was raised by a single mother who worked at a home day-care center and took odd jobs to make ends meet. Burns saw her mother's work ethic and incorporated it into her own life. She excelled early on in math and received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. She began pursuing her master's degree in the same field from Columbia University and soon joined Xerox as an intern.
Burn joined Xerox as a full-time employee in 1981 and quickly climbed the ranks. In 2000, she was appointed as the senior vice president of corporate strategic services. From there, she sharpened her skill set and became the president of Xerox in 2007. You can learn a lot from her book, Where You Are Is Not Who You Are: A Memoir. One of our favorite quotes from her has to be, "Believe that there are no limitations, no barriers to your success — you will be empowered, and you will achieve."
You can't make a list like this without including the first African American First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. Although she is well-known and respected, you may not be aware of how she got her start and what she's accomplished.
Michelle hails from Chicago, Illinois, where her father was a city-pump operator and a Democratic precinct captain, and her mother left her career as a secretary to take care of Michelle and her brother Craig. Michelle slept in the living room with her brother, with only a sheet as a room divider.
Michelle learned to read by age four, skipped second grade, and began taking gifted classes by the time she was in sixth grade. She took the role of student government treasurer in high school and later graduated as the class’ salutatorian. From there, she attended Princeton University and furthered her studies at Harvard Law School, becoming a notable lawyer.
She furthered her career throughout the years by pursuing public service nonprofit leadership-training programs until she was appointed vice president of community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center. She would later marry Barack Obama and serve as First Lady of the United States.
Michelle is a role model for women and advocated for poverty awareness, education, nutrition, physical activity, and healthy eating. She’s even considered a fashion icon, supporting American designers in the process.
Michelle Obama has done so much in her life that it's hard to even create a highlight reel. However, one thing you can learn from her is overcoming adversity and facing life with a smile.
"You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it's important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages."
Each year, there are more and more female-owned and black-owned businesses. These are only three of many African American female entrepreneurs. Supporting these women and the women to come is just one way you can do your part in the fight against discrimination.
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