In the past, it was men who dominated the business world. Today, the world has changed. According to the World Bank, one in three businesses globally is owned by women. From Coco Chanel to Estée Lauder, from Ruth Fertel to Rihanna, women are smashing the glass ceiling. To celebrate, we have compiled a list of seven top female entrepreneurs. We hope the following will provide some inspiration for the next generation of female entrepreneurs.
Ariana Huffington is a Greek-American entrepreneur. A news columnist, she went on to be the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post - an extremely popular and successful news platform that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2012. Ariana recently stepped away from the Huffington Post to launch a series of books, including her most recent - The Sleep Revolution. Her other books, One Night at a Time, The Third Metric to Redefining Success, and Creating a Life of Well-Being are all international bestsellers.
She is also the owner of Thrive Global; a new startup focused on health and wellness. The company offers a six-week course to help people with their overall well-being by providing science-based solutions to cope with stress and burnout. Ariana regularly appears on the lists of the world’s 100 most influential people.
Named the Most Powerful Woman in the World by both Time.com and CNN. This is a significant achievement - Oprah does not come from a privileged background and continues to be a source of inspiration for black women worldwide. She is the founder and presenter of the Oprah Winfrey Show - the longest-running daytime talk show in the USA. She also has her own media network, OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), and co-founded Oxygen Media, a cable TV station.
When she started out she was the youngest news anchor working in local media and the first black female news anchor at Nashville TV. She later moved to host AM Chicago and a half-hour morning talk show that eventually became The Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah has authored five books, including her memoir, The Life you want. She also publishes two magazines, O, The Oprah Magazine, and O at home.
Sara Blakely is the owner of Spanx - the incredibly successful clothing retailer that has evolved from just selling underwear to selling swimwear, athletic wear, and everyday wear. Spanx was born when Sara created a pair of pantyhose she could wear comfortably under her clothes. With hard work and determination, the company has grown into a household name around the world.
Spanx realised about $4 million in its first year of trading and $10 million in the second year. In November 2000, Oprah Winfrey declared Spanx as her new favourite thing, creating a significant further increase in sales. Sara has now started a foundation to assist female entrepreneurs whose businesses went under or were struggling during the 2020 economic crisis. She also launched the Red Backpack Fund, which gives out $5,000 awards to female entrepreneurs globally.
This is a real rag to riches story that has influenced thousands of women worldwide. As you will know, Joanne (JK) Rowling is famous for writing the series of Harry Potter books - the best-selling series of all time. The idea for Harry Potter came to her when she was on a delayed train trip from Manchester to London. She faced many challenges in the early days - from her mother's death to divorce from the birth of her first son while she was living in poverty.
The first book, Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone was rejected by numerous publishing companies. Once published however her books became a sensation. The books were turned into major feature films and have now become a successful theme park in the US, competing with Disney World.
Our list would be incomplete without Cher Wang's story, as she is arguably the most successful female entrepreneur in the world. Cher Wang is the owner and founder of HTC, a consumer electronics tech company primarily concerned with creating innovative smartphones.
Wang is not only an entrepreneur, she is a philanthropist who has given a great deal back to society. For example, she donated 6,000 HTC Flyer tablets to schools in Taipei and also provided significant funding to support education programs at the University of California, Berkeley.
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is the founder of Biocon, a biotechnology company based in India. She is on the Financial Times list of the top 50 women in business. In 1978 with working capital of 10,000 rupees, she started Biocon India in the garage of her rented apartment.
She faced significant challenges because of her youth and gender and also the problems inherent in building a biotech company in a country with limited infrastructure. Her drive and determination made Biocon only the second company in India to break the $1 billion valuation mark. She was awarded the Othmer Gold Medal for her contribution to the fields of science and chemistry.
Folorunsho Alakija is the richest and successful female entrepreneur in Nigeria. She is a businesswoman working in the fields of fashion, real estate, and the print industry. She founded her first company (a tailoring company called Supreme Stitches), after leaving her first job at the First National Bank of Chicago. Supreme Stitches was a great success and changed its name to Rose of Sharon House of Fashion in 1996.
Today, she is the Group Managing Director of the Rose of Sharon Group, the Rose of Sharon Prints and Promotions Ltd, the CEO of Digital Reality Prints Limited, and the Executive Chair of Famfa Oil Limited. Folorunsho Alakija has become one of the most powerful women in Africa and, according to Forbes magazine, is currently the 87th most powerful woman in the world.
These exceptional women prove that - whatever industry you are in - you can build a successful business and brand through energy, inspiration, and hard work. We look forward to seeing the next generation of female entrepreneurs taking on the world.
by Paul Aroloye | 08 Nov 21
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