Every successful entrepreneur definitely has an inspiring story to tell, as the road to entrepreneurship is definitely not an easy one, so many have travelled down that road but only a few can tell a successful story.
Even more is the ‘Perk’ that comes with being a black entrepreneur, in a world where black entrepreneurs have less to succeed, we celebrate those whom against all odds have made a mark.
Without prejudice to the list of numerous hardworking and inspiring black entrepreneurs all over the world, this compilation is subjective and is not a reflection of the MOST successful or MOST inspiring black entrepreneurs.
There are several others worthy of mention, however, with this few, we hope to appreciate all other hard-working black entrepreneurs and also encourage budding entrepreneurs of the Black race.
DAVID L. STEWARD – Worldwide Technology Inc.
Born in Illinois Chicago, David Steward like most African American born in the 90s was faced with poverty and severe discrimination, however against all odds, he started his career as a substitute teacher for the Boy scouts of America and gradually built a corporate career working in different capacities at Wagner Electric, Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, Federal Express… before eventually starting his first-ever business ( Transportation Business Specialists) in 1984.
Steward founded World Wide Technology in 1990 and today it’s one the largest private company in the U.S with more than 5,000 employees and earning over US$11 billion in revenue annually.
David Steward net worth is estimated at about US$4 billion, and he remains the chairman of the company.
ALIKO DANGOTE – Dangote Group
Africa’s richest man and world’s richest black man Aliko Dangote started experimenting the business world at a tender age, in his words “I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets [candy] and I would start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time.”
At the age of 21, he leveraged on a loan given to him by his uncle and ventured into business proper (importation of agricultural commodities), which became an instant success.
Today Dangote group is one of the most diversified business conglomerates with interest and investment in several sectors including; Cement, Sugar, Salt, Pasta, logistics… and recently investing over $10 billion in the construction of an oil refinery in Nigeria’s business city, Lagos.
The refinery is scheduled to be fully operational by 2020 with an estimated production output of 650,000 barrels of oil per day. Aliko Dangote’s net worth in July 2019 is $10 billion.
OPRAH WINFERY – Harpo Inc
Born into a broken home, raised in a hostile and impoverished environment, faced with multiple cases of sexual abuse from a young age of nine, Oprah Winfrey raised her head from the ugly waters to become the richest black woman in the world and carved a niche for herself in the media industry.
After building a successful career in TV broadcasting, Winfrey in August 1986 formed Harpo, Inc, a U.S based multimedia production company with several subsidiaries in the media and entertainment industry. This made her the first black person to own and control a major studio in the US. Harpo Inc later became the sole producer of her popular show The ’Oprah Winfrey Show’, and also hosted several other Television talk shows. In September 1996, she started an on-air book club with the aim to “get the country reading”.
In 2005, Winfrey was named the greatest woman in American history as part of a public poll as part of The Greatest American, in 2014, she was listed as one of the most powerful 100 women in the world by Forbes, Winfrey was called “arguably the world’s most powerful woman” by CNN and Time.com.
Oprah Winfrey current estimated worth is $2.6 billion, according to Forbes.
FOLORUNSHO ALAKIJA – Famfa Oil
Second richest African woman Folorunsho Alakija was Raised in a large family of 52 children, Folorunsho revealed in an autobiography posted on her Instagram handle, that she had faced challenges and setbacks in life, but became great as a result of determination and her love for God.
She started an illustrious career as an executive secretary and spent some time in the banking industry before establishing a tailoring firm called supreme stitches. In 1993, her company Famfa Limited was granted an oil prospecting license by the then military government of Nigeria headed by General Ibrahim Babangida.
She will later face a long legal battle with the Nigerian government after the government took a major stake of her company on the grounds that she will be profiting so much if she was allowed to retain the oil prospecting licence issued to her. In her words “friends and close allies deserted her and her family during the trying period” with some terming her ‘Greedy’. After 12 long years, she triumphed and the 60% stake was returned back to her.
She currently oversees several other business interests that cut across real estate, digital printing among others.
Also recognised for her philanthropic gestures, she is a major sponsor of the Agbami scholarship scheme and has severally empowered widows, orphans and small business owners.
In 2014, Folorunsho became the richest black woman in the world, although that position was shortlived, she still remains one of the richest and most influential black women in the world. According to Forbes, she is currently worth $1 billion.
JANICE BRYANT HOWROYD – Act-1 Group
Popularly known as the first African American woman to build and own a billion-dollar company, Janice is an entrepreneur, educator and businesswoman.
In 1978, Bryant started the Act-1 Group with a little more than $1000 in California U.S, as an enterprise that provides employment workforce management, and procurement solution.
Since inception, Act-1 group has had over 17000 clients, with an employee strength of 2,600 people and is operating in 19 countries across the world.
She is currently worth $390 million according to a forbes review.
STRIVE MASIYIWA – Econet Wireless
Every successful entrepreneur has got some great inspiring story to tell, however listening to the only billionaire from Zimbabwe talk, you’ll assume he should top the list of inspiring entrepreneurs. Masiyiwa has successfully sailed through defeating turbulence in business and in his personal life, his story remains an inspiration not just to black entrepreneurs, but the world at large.
Faced with a long battle with the dictatorial government of Zimbabwe during the early days of his company Econet, which culminated into series of threats to his life, and only recently he did triumph after a long battle with Bharti Airtel resulting from Econet unsuccessful venture in Africas most populous nation Nigeria, Masiyiwa has continued to grow his investment and has diversified his business interest to other areas including Fintech and Agriculture.
Arguably Africa’s most generous philanthropist and humanitarian, Masiyiwa has provided scholarships to over 250,000 young Africans in the past 20 years through his family’s foundation and has consistently mentored young people through his active Facebook page. Facebook in 2017 identified his platform as having the most engaged following of any business leader in the world.
He has won numerous awards and gained international recognition for his philanthropic gestures. His current net worth according to Forbes is estimated to be $2.7 Billion.
There are several other Black entrepreneurs worthy of mention, we, however, limit this article to the above six in no particular order.