5 of the Greatest Black Entrepreneurs of All Time
February is Black History Month, a time dedicated to shedding light on the countless contributions the Black community has made. As we commemorate their legacy, heritage, and achievements, consider this month a great time to reflect on the phenomenal growth of Black-owned businesses — and the profound and notable entrepreneurs who continue to pave the way for those looking to start their own businesses.
From Madam C. J. Walker to Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan, read on to discover some of the greatest Black entrepreneurs of all time.
Madam C.J. Walker
Let’s start with Madam C.J. Walker. If you’re not familiar with Walker — born Sarah Breedlove — allow us to re-introduce her and her groundbreaking contributions: She was the first Black female millionaire.
In addition to her philanthropic work, she founded the “Walker system,” earning her fortune by creating an innovative hair care formula specifically for Black women. After experiencing a scalp disorder that led to hair loss, Walker developed a treatment that would soon transform the Black hair care industry for decades.
The self-made millionaire used her fortune to fund scholarships for women at the Tuskegee Institute and donated generously to the NAACP, the Black YMCA, and other charities.
Speaking of self-made, next in line is media maven Oprah Winfrey. Though Winfrey grew up in extreme poverty, she eventually started her own charitable foundation for girls, which then led to the launch of her famous talk show.
As one of the most well-respected icons of our time, Winfrey’s far-reaching empire has now become a household name around the world. She is one of the highest-earning Black female billionaires, landing on the list of the 500 richest people alive.
Jay-Z and Beyonce
When you think of Black icons in the music industry, this dynamic duo comes to mind. Jay-Z and Beyonce have taken pop culture by storm. Together, they are not only a powerhouse couple that has completely transformed the music industry, but they also have a combined fortune of over $1 billion.
Their incredible on-stage presence and lucrative career earn them a place on our list of the greatest Black entrepreneurs of all time. What’s more, the couple has also built a reputation off of their charitable contributions, focused on social causes faced by the Black community.
This list wouldn’t be complete without Daymond John, a marketing mogul in the apparel industry. If his name sounds familiar, it’s likely because you’ve seen him as one of the all-star investors on ABC’s Shark Tank.
As one of the world’s most successful businessmen, John has dedicated himself to guiding other self-starting entrepreneurs. That’s why he recently launched Black Entrepreneurs Day, an event that celebrates the future of Black businesses.
Last but not least, one of the most famous basketball players of all time, Michael Jordan, deserves a spot on this list — not only because of his legendary NBA history but also for his bankable career while working to build his powerful Jordan brand with Nike, which continues to be an absolute slam dunk.
Today, Jordan remains a groundbreaking success in the sports industry, inspiring others around the world that anything is possible.
What’s Stopping You?
Defying the odds, these five entrepreneurs have made significant contributions to society and have laid the groundwork for others to follow in their footsteps.