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Famous Black Female Entrepreneurs

Updated on February 7, 2012

They say behind every successful man there is a woman. But what if those successful women either had a man behind them or not any at all? It doesn't take a man to be a rocket scientist to realize that women are just as intellectually intelligent as men. For the women who strive for success, fame and fortune are around the corner. All of the women listed have created a business and have been quite accomplished Black women today leading the way for the next generation.

Drive, determination, education and the willingness to work diligently fashions them as trailblazers of our time. Women have came a long way. With change comes empowerment; black women are now able to achieve what there families in the past were not empowered to attain. Throughout there own individual struggles, all of the African American women overcame the obstacles and let nothing stand in their way.


Maggie Lena Walker

Founder of the St. Luke's Penny Savings Bank/Consolidated Bank and Trust, Maggie Lena Walker was the first African American woman to found a bank. In 1903 Maggie gathered $9,403 in deposits from the members of the Independent Order of St. Luke, benevolent society. Becoming the societies executive secretary. Once she became the secretary she had noticed that the members began to dwindle. Walker persevered and reinvigorated the institution to over 100,000 members. The bank was established because there wasn't a white bank that would accept deposits from black citizens. The bank became the Independent Order's financial arm.

By 1913 the bank had deposits of over $300,000. Initiating loans for Black businesses, new homeowners and college loans for students. In the next 17 years, the bank continued to flourish. When the great depression came, many black owned banks folded, but St. Luke's Penny Savings Bank survived. Merging with two smaller black owned banks, it was re-named Consolidated Bank & Trust.

Maggie was quoted as saying, " Let us put our money's together. Let us put our money out as usury for ourselves, and reap the benefit ourselves, Let us have a bank that will take our nickels and turn them into dollars."

With over $116 million in assets, Consolidated Bank & Trust still exists today, with the majority of its share holders still being black Americans.

Maggie Lena Walker also founded the St. Luke's Herald which she edited and a department store which subsequently failed, because white Americans boycotted it and its suppliers.


Sarah Breedlove Walker (Madam C.J. Walker)

Born to freed slaves in 1867, Sarah Breedlove Walker was the founder of Madam CJ Walker manufacturing company. She created a cosmetic and hair care line for Black Women.

Sarah Breedlove Walker transformed prejudice, illiteracy and poverty to become one of the most acclaimed businesswomen in America. She was the first woman from all races to become a self-made millionaire.

Combining her own unique formula with heated combs and brushes, she created a scalp conditioning and healing formula selling Madame Walker's Wonderful Hair Grower and found her own business in 1905. She would go door-door across the Country selling her own products, giving demonstrations and developing new products. She eventually expanded to the Caribbean as her company grew.

Sarah's corporation at one time employed over 3,000 employees which offered a wide range of cosmetics, licensed Walker agents and Walker Schools. Sarah Walker provided meaningful employment and personal enlightment to thousands of Black women.

Sarah Breedlove Walker was quoted as saying, " I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into manufacturing hair goods and preparations.... I have built my own factory on my own ground."


Catherine L. Hughes

Born in 1947 Catherine L. Hughes is the Founder and Chairman of Radio One Inc. A single mother of a son struggled in the beginning, cooking on a hotplate and taking baths in the bathroom at the office. It was rumored that Catherine was turned down by 32 banks before securing a loan for her first radio station in the 1980s. With a blend of political commentary, talk and activism she transcended into a $287 million dollar company with 65 radio station throughout the Country. She was the first Black woman to lead a public traded company.

Catherine L. Hughes has excelled and work at many capacities within her company. Including President, General Manager, Talk show host and General sales manager.


Tyra Banks

One of the youngest most Famous Black Female Entrepreneurs is Tyra Banks. President and Chief Creative Officer, Tyra embarked on a new business adventure creating Bankable Productions in 2003. Establishing her first film and television production company,Tyra Banks is one of the youngest Black female entrepreneurs in our Country.

Her company Bankable Productions created the prime-time hit America's next Top Model and the talk show hit The Tyra Banks Show. Since its debut the Tyra Banks show has been seen by over 5 million viewers, between the ages of 18-34. She is currently a judge for Mexico's next top model and Vietnam's next top model.

Tyra Banks was also the first top supermodel to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, Victoria's Secret Catalogue and GQ magazine.


Valerie Daniels-Carter

President and CEO of V&J Foods Inc., Valerie Daniels-Carter created her company with her brother John. With over 100 restaurants in 4 states, V&J is the largest African-American owned franchise in the United States.

Determined to accomplish success Valerie and her brother John opened their first Burger King restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1984. Valerie Daniels-Carter currently serves as President of the Minority Franchise Association of Burger King Corporation. She is also an executive board member of the National Franchisee Association; Diversity Action Council of Burger King Corporation; Board of Directors for the Auto Club Group & AAA Association; Board of Directors of Holy Redeemer Church of God In Christ; board member of US Bank and Christian Stewardship Foundation; and CFO for Auxiliaries in Ministries of the Church of God In Christ. Amongst other accomplishments and achievements since 1984, Valerie Daniels-Carter is a role model of millions of young women.


Oprah Winfrey

Born January 29, 1954 Oprah Winfrey has shared her sorrows, joys and pain, with millions of viewers since she first aired her talk show in the early 1980s. Now the owner of the television network OWN which launched on January 1, 2011. Oprah is the only black female billionaire and the richest African American in the United States.

Oprah Winfrey is also co-founder of Oxygen Media which aired on February 2, 2000. Now airing in over 48 million homes across the Country, she has earned the most prestigious awards in broadcasting, including the IRTS Gold Medal Award (1996) and the George Foster Peabody Individual Achievement Award in (1996). The Oprah Winfrey show and Oprah have received 39 Daytime Time Emmy Awards to date.

Oprah has been recognized for her extraordinary contributions and achievements, receiving the highest industry acknowledgments and prestigious awards in history.The most recent awards were The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences-Crystal Pillar Award. and Time Magazines 100 Most Influential People in the World. She is the only person in the history of Tine magazine to be recognized 8 consecutive times from 2004-2011.

Harpo productions also owns and produces the Rachel Ray Show and Dr. Phil. Oprah and Hearst Magazines also produced O magazine in 2000. It is one of the most successful magazines in the history of publication, with an audience of over two million readers each month.

From yesterday to today all of these women were confronted with some type of obstacle. But instead of allowing barriers to stand in their way of success, they overcame with perseverance and achievement. They are the pioneers who have paved the paths for millions of young black women to accomplish and become all they can be. With all of those strong role models, how can you fail?

Martin Luther King Jr's speech priceless! What a premonition for the Black women of today, who are shakers and movers in our Country.

Paragraph From I Had A Dream Speech

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

Were You Aware Of All Of These Women, Who Were Famous Black Entrepreneurs?

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    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 4 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Robert359: You are welcome and so glad you enjoyed it. Many black people have high achievements and accomplishments, and should be recognized for what they have given to all of us.

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 4 years ago from East Coast

      Robert359 you are so right, don't even get me started on all the racist tweets and comments about the new Miss America who is absolutely stunning on stage and off. She has a bright future and is going to become a doctor.

    • profile image

      Robert359 4 years ago

      Some of these post have something negative to say about black people and especially black females. Just glad the racist have not showed up. They want to belittle anything a person of color accomplish. Great read Mrs. Evans.

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      sam209: Thank you so much for appreciating this hub, these women are iconic and many women should follow in there footsteps. :)

    • sam209 profile image

      sam209 6 years ago

      I know I'm sharing this one! Great hub Ms Evans!

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Famous Black Female Entrepreneurs signify the strength that women have. All of them had the tools to succeed and overcome. They are the epitome of success in our Country and I was honored to write about them. Thanks for enjoying the hub. :)

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 6 years ago from East Coast

      Great informative hub. I knew of all but 2 of these women.

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      RealHousewife: It was tough back then. What an inspiration they were and still are today. Thanks for the kudos. :)

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Hey AEvans...great job and I can tell in the poll you knew very few of us would have heard of all of them. I only knew about 3 of these amazing ladies. I am really blown away by the ladies from the earlier times it was even harder then to get ahead for any female - very admirable.

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Millionaire Tips: They are inspiring. It was a little time consuming, but well worth researching. Thanks for the kudos. :)

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

      All of these women are amazing and inspiring. This is a lot of research - thank you AEvans. Voted up.

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Angela Randolph: Thank you so much for these fantastic facts! She was a strong woman and what a legacy she has left behind. Thank you also for the link to the website. :)

    • profile image

      Angela Randolph 6 years ago

      Hello AEvans.

      I would like to share with you and your readers several important facts about Madame C.J. Walker’s story and her hair care products. To omit these facts would dishonor Madame C.J. Walker and her true legacy as one of the early pioneers of the black hair care industry.

      Fact #1 – Madame C.J. Walker’s historic hair care company still exists today and has never stopped manufacturing all of the original hair oils! Anyone who visits our website at can view and purchase the full product line.

      Fact #2 - ?The website also contains valuable information about the stock / asset sale (including the ability to view the stock certificates) and Raymond Randolph’s purchase of the original Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company in 1985 from the Walker Trustees in Indianapolis, Indiana and how the Randolph Family continues to keep Madame Walker’s “true” legacy alive.?

      Fact #3 - To promote the entrepreneurial spirit that Madame Walker exemplified, the website provides individuals the opportunity to become a “Walker Agent” and sell Madame C.J. Walker products. By clicking on the “Find A Distributor” tab, you will see agents located in the United Kingdom, France, Bahamas, and the United States.?

      Fact #4 - September 2011 marked the Centennial Anniversary of the incorporation of Madame C.J. Walker’s historic company – doing business today as Madame C.J. Walker Enterprises. On September 24th, 2011 we commemorated this event with the “Tracing the Footsteps of a Legacy” 100th Year Celebratory Walk. You can visit our website to view the Souvenir Program.?

      Fact #5 - Due to our ownership of Madame’s historic company and the historical documents and memorabilia of the company, the Randolph Family can provide the most detailed and historically accurate information about Madame C.J. Walker and her company by calling toll free, 866-552-2838, by clicking on the “Frequently Asked Questions” FAQS tab of our website, or by going to the contact us page of our website.

      Fact #6 -The Madame Walker Theatre Center (known today as another National Historic Landmark associated with Madame C.J. Walker) was actually built 9 years after Madame Walker died and represents one of the root causes of the financial drain which Madame C.J. Walker’s hair care company endured from 1930-1979.

      Angela Randolph


    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Maddie Ruud: Maggie Lena was an amazing woman. She is certainly an inspiration for all women. Not only was she a woman, she was black. So much against her but she overcame. :)

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Simone Smith: I have to agree with you when it comes to never giving up. Look at Lena and C.J.? In a time when our Country was divided, the accomplished so much. :)

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      K9keystrokes: They are amazing and intriguing. Thank you for the kudos! :)

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      dipless: Maggie Lena Walker was an amazing woman! If she can open a bank in a time when Blacks and Whites were divided, one can only imagine how far a woman can come in 2012. Glad you enjoyed. :)

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 6 years ago from Oakland, CA

      Thanks for highlighting these inspiring women! Like dipless, I had never heard of Maggie Lena Walker, and found her story particularly interesting!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      One characteristic about these women in particular stands out in my mind- many of them succeeded thanks to persistence! It reminds me to never give up.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      What an amazing group of women! Nicely presented AEvans!



    • dipless profile image

      dipless 6 years ago from Manchester

      Really interesting read, thank you for sharing this. I'd never heard of Maggie Lena Walker; fascinating.

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      The Finance Hub: They are important to society. Both past and present. Black women have always had the ability to lead and are equal to white women. Being held back is nonsense and look how far all of them have came. Kudos to them. Thank you so much for stopping by. :)

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      dl53acy: Thank you so much for appreciating this hub. Valerie Daniels-Carter is truly impressive. What determination she has! :)

    • dl53acy profile image

      dl53acy 6 years ago from East Texas

      This is a great hub AEvans and I admire the diligence of all these women for all their successful accomplishments paving the way for others behind them. And I am very familiar with all of their success but I was very impressed with Valerie Daniels-Carter as she was quite an achiever. Thanks for sharing some important history. The history of the Black American Woman! Blessings to you! :)

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      heart4theword: 32 times and she kept on going! She is a go-getter in my book. Look where she is now? I wonder what the banks think now? lolo!

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Patty Inglish: Tyra is quite impressive! She is a positive role model and the next generations Oprah. Young, vibrant and absolutely determined. :)

    • heart4theword profile image

      heart4theword 6 years ago from hub

      Loved the challenging story of Catherine L. Hughes. Talk about not giving up! She sure had a get turned down that many times, just to get back up and try again. Kudos to her:) Inspiring stories! Thank you:)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Rated Up and several more. Tyra Banks has made an impression on me, developing and mentoring models. Some of the stunts on her shows scare them badly, but many learn to overcome.

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      lord de cross: They did overcome adversity and two of them weathered a storm when America was divided. If both of them can overcome when there was racial prejudice imagine what many other women can now accomplish. Thank you for the kudos. :)

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 6 years ago from New York

      Great read Aevans,

      Most of these ladies overcame adversity and we can learn from them, after the darkness there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Magnificent!



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