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Famous Black Women Entrepreneurs: African-American business woman

Updated on June 14, 2012

In a world dominated by White Males, with the upcoming black history month, now is the time to celebrate and discuss those famous black women entrepreneurs.

Most people want to live the 'American dream' and this includes the African Americans, according to the U.S census bereau, In 2002, there were 1.2 million firms owned by black people in the America, employing around 754,000 workers and producing nearly $89 billion in revenues, sadly though this is small fry, It seems that African Americans either don't start their own businesses or they struggle to keep them afloat.

The rate for African Americans in self employment is only around 4.75% according to the Small business administration (SBA) which is about 40% that of the Caucasian self employment rate.

Industries with most Black-Owned businesses



According the U.S. census Bureau, health care, social assistance, repair and maintenance, and retail trade are the markets that businesses owned by black people operate in, with these four accounting for 28% of black-owned business revenue. In the retail trade 54% of the revenue is made up from motor vehicle and parts dealers.

Over 53% of black owned businesses are home based according to SBA. The states with the most black owned businesses are New York, Georgia, California and Florida and that state with the highest percentage is Colombia. The map below shows the percentage of black owned businesses by state. It is no surprise that this is in close accordance with the Slave states, read Slave Trade a Turning Point in the History of Business to get a detailed look at the effect of the slave trade on global economy and business.

Percentage of States firms which are black-owned

The main Concentration of black-owned businesses is in the east and southeast of America
The main Concentration of black-owned businesses is in the east and southeast of America | Source


It has been cited that the majority of black-owned businesses start up with less than $5000 in capital which means that starting a business is much more difficult. Also the median net worth, which is defined as value of all assets, minus all liabilities on those assets, of black-owned businesses is around $23,200,compared with the median net worth for White non-Latinos is just over $76,600.

Believe it or not, Lenders are twice as likely to refuse credit to a Black-business owner than a white one based on an equal credit application. This is even more prevalent amongst black women where 47% said they have encountered obstacles in trying to obtain business finance, when you compare this to the 28% of caucasian women who said the same, this is most likely because they are viewed as less likely to succeed by lenders. The table below shows the Sources of Capital Used to Start or Acquire Employer Firms in 2002 as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sources of Capital Used to Start or Acquire Employer Firms, 2002

(click column header to sort results)
All respondent firms  
Native American  
Family and Personal Savings
Family Assets
Personal or Businss Credit Card
Business loan from government
government guaranteed bank loan
business loan from bank
outside investor
none needed
Item not reported
Source: Minorities in Business: A Demographic Review of Minority Business Ownership. Office of Advocacy, U. S. Small Business Administration, April 10, 2007.
Time is money and spending all this time trying to get black-owned businesses finances eats into the black entrepreneurs finances.
Time is money and spending all this time trying to get black-owned businesses finances eats into the black entrepreneurs finances. | Source

For me I think the most surprising statistic is that 97.1% of black-owned business have to use some form of personal money or asset to start a business as opposed to 86.5% of all who applied. Also the massive move from the average for business loans from banks, which backs up what was being said earlier about struggling to get funding. Obviously the government are trying to help the situation by offering a higher % of government loans or government guaranteed loans to black owned businesses.

The next issue is that black-owned businesses generate lower sales than other businesses. On average for every dollar that a white-owned business earns a black owned business would earn 43cents, this is based on a report by the SBA. The average annual receipts for black-owned firms were $697,000 compared with $1.6 million for white-owned firms as demonstrated by the graph below.

2002 Average Receipts per Employer Firm and Nonemployer Firm


On the up

Despite such sobering statistics the latest SBA reports from 2009 show a positive trend when it comes to black-owned business. Especially amongst female black entrepreneurs, whereas of 2004 the NWBC says:

Famous black women entrepreneurs

So I think you will agree that after reading the above the black female entrepreneur has a lot of challenges to overcome: So here are my top three Famous black women Entrepreneurs:

Beautiful, inspirational an amazing female black entrepreneur.
Beautiful, inspirational an amazing female black entrepreneur. | Source

3. Beyoncé Knowles

Beyonce is a modern singer,actor and entrepreneur, the main reason she has got spot number three is because of the sheer diversity of her activities, she sings, has writtem has a clothing line, acts. She really is a woman of many talents. According to Forbes she earnt $87million in one year and has one of the most diverse portfolios with:

  • Touring and Merchandise: $14 Million
  • Films: $5 Million
  • Fashion: $15 Million
  • Music Publishing: $8 Million
  • Endorsements: $20 Million
  • Tour Sponsors: $4 Million

Her business acumin and songs act as inspiration to other women which is why she is listed as number 3 in the famous black women entrpreneurs.

second of my famous black woman entrepreneurs
second of my famous black woman entrepreneurs | Source

2. Madame C.J. Walker

This lesser known entrepreneur was born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 in Louisiana, her older siblings and parents were slaves on a local plantation. She was the pioneer of the modern hair care and cosmetic industry, she was a master of marketing and she trained thousands of African Americans to be her sales associates, helping them become financially independent. She is credited as the first black African American Millionaire. She massively deserves the second spot in my Famous Black women entrepreneurs. The video below gives lot's of detailed information about this little known amazing entrepreneur.

C.J. Walker

oprah Winfrey

Worlds most famous black woman entrepreneur
Worlds most famous black woman entrepreneur | Source

1. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey was born on 01/29/1954 into rural poverty in Mississippi, she was raised by her mother in a poor urban neighbourhood on welfare.

She is now the owner of Harpo Industries, O Magazine and two cable television stations. According to Forbes she was as of 2010 worth $2.75billion and has overtaken Meg Whitman the CEO and founder of ebay as the richest woman in America.

Between 2004 and 2006 she was listed as the worlds only black woman billionaire. Her poor background and massive success gives her top spot hands down.

For further information on Oprah and any of the others listed check out the links below.

Articles and reports used

  1. U.S. Census Bureau, Survey of Business Owners – Black-Owned Firms: 2002
  2. U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy (April 2007), Minorities in Business: A Demographic Review of Minority Business Ownership
  3. National Women’s Business Council (June 2006), African American Women and Entrepreneurship
  4. U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy, (December 2005), Minority Entrepreneurship
  5. U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy, (Oct. 29, 2009), Small Businesses Are Important Players in U.S. Business and Growth


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    • Anita Hasch profile image

      Anita Hasch 

      2 years ago from Port Elizabeth

      Madam Walker must have been an amazing business woman to obtain success at that time. Just shows how important it is to be successful at marketing.

    • davidcollinsaus profile image


      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Hi Dip - love your hub. Interestingly I've read that in developing nation micro-loans, women are the preferred borrowers. I'd like to know a few stats if you can access the data: return on assets or return on capital; and asset turn (sales per dollar invested). Keep up the good work.

    • profile image

      Jeraldine Noble 

      7 years ago

      Black Women Entrepreneurs are awesome!

    • htodd profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      That is really great Entrepreneurs..Thanks for the nice hub

    • Geraldnduru profile image


      7 years ago from Kenya

      This implies that we all have equal abilities regardless of racial affiliation

    • dslrtips profile image


      7 years ago from Evergreen Manison

      I really love reading articles like this. Well-researched and very detail.

    • dipless profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Manchester

      stephhicks68, thank you indeed, i'm doing WTI every week to try and help with inspirations to hit my 150 -1500 challenge. Glad you thought it was a nice article, indeed they do need celebrating and it is good to have a bit of inspirations every now and then.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 

      7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Good for you, wading into the WTI for this week! This is an excellent article on black women entrepreneurs. We need to celebrate these pioneers more! Very inspirational (another vote up button I would love to see)! Cheers, Steph

    • dipless profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Manchester

      Thank you, she really was an inspiration,I think that it is looking as though she may have to be moved to number one, I was debating who to put in first and second. But yes Madame C.J. Walker was incredible to rise up through such adversity to become the first black female millionaire is nothing but astonishing. Especially when you consider the value of money back then. Imagine with her business acumen the size he empire would have been with the internet and such tools at her disposal.

      I am sure that she did but to amass a $2.75billion fortune is no mean feat and she deserves all the praise she can be given.

      I have to agree the lending practice stats are awful and make for sickening reading, I think that is why the government have been putting in government backed loans to try to bridge this gap.

      Thanks for commenting.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      7 years ago from Northern, California

      Really good stuff! Madam C.J. Walker was an amazing person, truly the trail blazer for all business minded people to follow. Prevailing over obstacles and obvious barriers of her time must have presented quite a problem. Yet, to come out on the other side as the first black millionaire business person makes her #1 in my book. I often think Oprah took a page out of Madam Walkers playbook; and who could blame her? Great information and I have to say; shame on those who discriminate(d) within lending practices,(shakes head in disapproval).


    • dipless profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Manchester

      @Support Med, thank you for the comments, I knew little about her before researching her and since publishing this I have learnt more, it is true this woman was an inspiration and paved the way not only for black women but women in general. Thank you for your support.

      @Michele Travis, glad you enjoyed. I hope so too, the views the better as far as I am concerned. I think it is incredible that black people are still actively discriminated against with regards to business financing etc. That was the part that surprised me the most in my research. Thank you for your comments.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 

      7 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      This is a wonderful hub. I hope more people read it and realize what black people have done for us in this country. It is truly amazing, and they do not get enough credit. Thank you for this hub. Thumbs up!

    • Support Med. profile image

      Support Med. 

      7 years ago from Michigan

      Having experience in the field of Cosmetology, I know of Madame C.J. Walker well. #1 in my opinion, as she helped pave the way for the Oprahs and Beyonces of this world.

      Well done hub! Well gathered research and information. Voted and rated.

    • dipless profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Manchester

      I hadn't either, but she was a women way ahead of her times; I mean her siblings were slaves in a plantation and for her to come from this background in the times when black people were severely discriminated against. She built up a million dollar empire in the late 19th and early 20th century talk about inspiration.

      I imagine they will I see no reason why we shouldn't. Indeed actively discriminating in lending is awful, just very hard to prove, but the figures speak for themselves.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Wow! Madame C.J. Walker rocks!! I hadn't heard of her before. And the stats were most interesting. Let's hope that the next century sees MANY MORE black women making it big in business. I have a feeling it shall!

      Let's just hope the discrimination surrounding lending is on its way OUT.


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