Resilience has always been one of the most beautiful and inspiring qualities of the Black community. African American business leaders and entrepreneurs have significantly impacted their communities, industries, and society. Today, they’re finally beginning to receive the recognition they deserve.
In honor of Black History Month, we’re highlighting several female Black entrepreneurs who have made an impact with their work. We hope that sharing their voices inspires you and reminds you to always believe in your own dreams.
Nicole Lynn Lewis — Founder of Generation Hope
Generation Hope is a non-profit organization based out of Washington, D.C., that helps young parents stay out of poverty by earning an education. Founder and CEO Nicole Lynn Lewis was once a teen mom, so she understands the difficulties many young parents face. With her then-3-month-old daughter along for the ride, Nicole put herself through college and now works every day to help teenage parents earn degrees and go on to build lives they’re proud of. Nicole has received several notable awards for her contributions to her community, including the Black Voices for Black Justice Award that “recognizes incredible leaders who have been on the frontlines working to dismantle the deep-rooted, racist systems that have plagued our country for centuries,” as well as the Boulder Fund, which supports leaders of color in education.
Oprah’s incredible rise to fame has been an inspiration for millions of people for decades. Growing up in poverty and suffering extreme childhood trauma and abuse, Oprah refused to let her past determine her future. She earned a degree in broadcasting in 1984, and went on to host AM Chicago. Her confident, authentic personality earned her a talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which ran for an astonishing 25 seasons.
Today, Oprah is a billionaire businesswoman and philanthropist who stands as the chairwoman and CEO of Harpo Productions, her own production company, and chairwoman and CCO of the Oprah Winfrey Network. She also founded the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, a charity that strives to help support grassroots organizations in communities around the world, with special emphasis on increasing access to education.
Trinity Mouzon Wofford — Founder of Golde
Golde is a popular wellness brand that has products featured in Target, and founder Trinity Mouzon Wofford made it to Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2021. Her goal is to make superfood wellness affordable to a wide audience that can benefit from holistic healing. Trinity began her career as a psychology graduate with no idea how to turn her passion for wellness into a job she loved. She began working at a startup, specializing in predictive marketing strategies for small companies. But she never lost sight of what she loved, often whipping up homemade holistic brews with her then-boyfriend, now-husband Issey Kobori.
After her mother lost access to a holistic treatment she could no longer afford, Trinity began to consider how she could help people benefit from the type of wellness she knew mattered. In 2017, Trinity and Issey founded Golde together. The two started off marketing turmeric latte powders priced at just $29 for 30 servings. After building a massive following in NYC, Golde expanded to include everything from face masks to matcha.
In an interview with Forbes, Trinity shared her broader ambitions for her company, saying, “My hope is that what we’re doing continues to inspire more women of color to start and scale their Businesses.”
Iman — Founder of Iman Cosmetics
You may recognize Iman as an iconic model and beauty icon, but she’s also a talented and successful businesswoman. Most notably, she’s the founder of Iman Cosmetics, a national makeup collection that encourages everyone to “celebrate your skin tone.”
Iman was born Zara Mohamed Abdulmajid in Somalia in 1955, and was later renamed by her grandfather who thought she would prosper with a “masculine” name. She spent most of her childhood and adolescence in Egypt at boarding school, then started a modeling career in the U.S. after she was discovered by a photographer. In 1994, Iman launched her own cosmetics line, which focused primarily on creating melanin-inspired shades for women of color. In the early 90s, options were scarce, so Iman paved the way for all the future BIPOC cosmetic lines that would rise to fame in the future (like Rihanna’s Fenty line).
History Unfolding: Taking Inspiration From Black Voices Past and Present
The women featured in this article are only a small fraction of the incredible BIPOC entrepreneurs making history every day. No matter where you come from or what your background may be, these stories remind us to celebrate the achievements of Black founders every day, and recognize all the unseen talent that perseveres in our own communities each day.