Green Is the New Black. Dive Into the Riches The Top 10 Black Entrepreneurs Have Earned.
He isn’t one of the Black entrepreneurs in our list today, but his words reflect the spirit of entrepreneurship. Nelson Mandela once said, “I never lose. I either win or learn.” He was the much-loved and respected President of South Africa, who brought a sense of humility, kindness, and forgiveness not only to SA but the entire world.
The entrepreneurs featured today are true testimony to those words from Mandela. Some lived before him while some were young adults when he died, but together they make up 10 incredibly successful black entrepreneurs.
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Stories are more enjoyable when they are told rather than read. Here are these 10 success stories narrated in our vivid YouTube video:
With that established, let’s begin reading about the financially-genius Black winners. They are in no specific order:
Jay Z and Beyonce
Power couple, Beyonce and Jay-Z, have a combined fortune of $1.5 billion. There is nothing that this couple cannot achieve. Jay-Z was the first hip-hop artist to gross $1 billion and as he raps on Kanye West’s Diamonds of Sierra Leone (Remix), “I’m not a businessman/I’m a business, man!” He is a business and he is a man.
The accolades and business successes that the couple have are immense. Fashion, records, music streaming services, restaurants, alcohol, real-estate, cannabis, investing, sports teams, spokespeople for various brands and even watermelon water!
The brand power of Beyonce and Jay Z surpasses many, and with brilliant marketing strategies and unique launches, the pair are just going to continue their upward trend.
American businessman Chris Gardner is a man that has inspired the lives of many. His life was so meaningful and powerful that a movie called The Pursuit of Happiness was made, starring Will Smith.
Gardner was homeless in the 80s while raising his toddler son. The story is lengthy, and Gardner was always a great businessman – even affording himself a Ferrari that he bought from Michael Jordan. After an altercation with his girlfriend, cops were alerted to the scene and they found out he had unpaid parking tickets on the Ferrari, so he spent 10-days in jail.
When he got out of jail, he had basically lost everything. His former girlfriend had left with his child, only to drop him back with Gardner and relinquish all responsibility.
Gardner and his little boy were homeless for almost a year. They slept wherever they could find safety, and despite finding a job during this traumatic time, couldn’t afford proper housing.
Today, if you ask him about the experience he says, “I couldn’t tell you that we were homeless, I just knew that we were always having to go. So, if anything, I remember us just moving, always moving.”
He eventually became a reputable stockbroker and founded his own firm, Gardner Rich & Co and is worth around $70 million.
Sheila and Robert Johnson
Aluxers, this was no ordinary couple. They were the first Black couple entrepreneurs to become billionaires in the USA!
In 1979 married couple, Robert and Sheila Johnson co-founded BET – Black Entertainment Television. The company sold to Viacom in 2000 for $3 billion. The couple have since divorced, but it hasn’t stopped them from moving forward in their respective careers.
Sheila Johnson became the owner of a few sports teams, including the Washington Wizards, the Washington Capitals, and the Washington Mystics in the WNBA of which she is the president and managing partner.
Robert became the first African American to become the majority stakeholder of a professional sports organization in 2003, the NBAs Charlotte Bobcats. He also founded RLJ Companies in 2004, an investment firm working in hotel real estate, financial services, asset management, gaming, and the sports and entertainment industry.
Same year, Sheila founded Salamander Hotels and Resorts, and she is CEO. They oversee luxury properties in parts of the USA. She is also the founder and chair of the Middleburg Film Festival and founded a video-on-demand service in 2014 called the Urban Movie Channel.
Fast forward 2-yers and she’s done it again – co-founded WE Capital – a firm dedicated to assisting businesses led by female entrepreneurs intending to focus on social chance.
Robert has been in the press lately, having told CNBC that the US government should “provide $14 trillion of reparations for slavery to help reduce racial inequality.”
And speaking of slavery, look out for a new video to be released later this month titled, 15 Examples of Modern-Day Slavery
Janice Bryant Howroyd
“We get our results from where we place our attention.” True words said by Janice Bryant Howroyd, the founder and CEO of the Act 1 Group, an employment agency and consultancy. She is also the first African American woman to run a company that brings in more than $1 billion in annual revenue!
It was sheer determination, guts and a $900 loan from her mom that started her inspiring career off.
She opened her business in LA in 1978. She had the $900 from her mum, $600 of her own, a fax machine and telephone. Part of her reasoning behind opening the business was that she had tried for 2-years to find a job she really wanted but had no luck.
Today, her company has over 17,000 clients, operates in 19 countries and has 2,600 employees. That, especially, is a goal for many rich black entrepreneurs.
Bryant Howroyd and her family own dozens of properties, including residential and commercial rental properties.
She grew up with 11 siblings, and she was always taught, “attitude beats aptitude.”
Janice didn’t have prior business experience, but she sure did know a few wise tricks. Here are 15 Things You Should Know When Starting a Business.
Madam C.J. Walker
Her real name is Sarah Breedlove. She was born in Louisiana in 1867 and was the first of her family to be free born.
Her story is riveting. There’s a short series on Netflix called Self-Made, which tells it so beautifully, starring Octavia Spencer. On a side note, did you know that Halle Berry was seriously considered for the role of Madam CJ Walker? We can’t envision it either!
Like any series, some things are embellished, while others are not. What is not untrue is that Walker was the first-ever self-made millionaire and holds the Guinness world record for that achievement. She had assets worth more than $1 million, valuing around $15 million today.
A short snippet doesn’t do her life and career justice, but this single mom had struggled immensely with scalp problems, causing her to lose her hair. In 1903 she was working for Annie Malone, who had her own line of hair products and was finding great success with her “Wonderful Hair Grower.” Madam CJ Walker left her job with Annie and began working on her own line of hair care products, that ultimately healed the scalp and encouraged hair growth.
She created employment for hundreds of women, opened a factory and a college to train her consultants.
Both Madam CJ Walker and Annie Malone made great strides in empowering women of colour in the early 1900s.
Aluxers, what do the Kardashians and Daymond John have in common? Well, John used to work for the Kardashian’s before he was fired by them. His job was to source and secure product placement in the show, which was not the easiest job because the girls were just starting their careers then and didn’t have the pull they have now.
He would often pay to have them wear his own brand, FUBU. Long story short, Khloe “fired” him so that he could pursue other avenues and hence Shark Tank was born.
John and Khloe have remained in touch and she tweeted the following, “You always had the respect from me and you always had the ability to see things others couldn’t! Now… everyone sees keep on shining only love over here.”
His accolades stretch far, from his clothing line FUBU worth $8 billion. His Shark Tank appearances over 8 seasons, Emmy Awards, Critics Choice Awards, author of several books including The Power of Broke which made it to number 2 on the New York Times best Seller list. Be sure to give it a listen on audible.com.
He is hosting a virtual event on the 24th of October 2020 called Black Entrepreneurs Day and will be awarding 7 Black entrepreneurs with $25,000 each.
With a net worth of $1.1 billion, 74-year old Mo Ibrahim is the epitome of success. His focus was telecommunications and he founded Celtel which garnered 24-million clients across Africa. He sold the company in 2005 for $3.6 billion and went on to form the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in 2006.
The main objective of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation is the “critical importance of governance and leadership in Africa.”
In 2007 he introduced the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership and the first person to be awarded this honour was former president Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique. It’s through the foundation that the Ibrahim Index of African Governance is published which ranks the performance of all African countries.
They also offer scholarships at the University of Birmingham, SOAS, and London Business School for master’s students and postgraduates.
We love this quote from Mo Ibrahim, it’s one to live by for sure, “I think we need to look at ourselves first. We should practice what we’re preaching. Otherwise, we are hypocrites.”
To meet some more Black billionaires, be sure to watch our video: Top 10 Richest Black Billionaires In The World.
We stay in Africa and meet Mike Adenuga, one of the most prominent Black entrepreneurs, who is the second richest man in Nigeria and the 3rd wealthiest man in Africa.
He made his first million by the age of 26 from selling lace and soft drinks. He accumulated his massive fortune of $5.7 billion through telecom and oil production.
He received a drilling licence in 1990 and a few months later, his Consolidated Oil struck oil! It became the first indigenous oil company to achieve this feat and drill in commercial quantity. Conoil now operates 6 oil blocks in the Niger Delta.
Just a touch on some of his achievements:
2003 – Founded Globacom Limited also called Glo. Glo has over 50-million subscribers and employs 3,500 people.
2012 – Made Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger.
2018 – Decorated with the insignia of a Commander of the Legion of Honour by President Emmanuel Macron of France.
Adenuga is a role model for many as he got his MBA at Pace University in New York by working as a taxi driver. Aluxers, always consider what he said, “the harder you work, the luckier you get.”
This lady needs little introduction, and her success is known around the globe. Her net worth is $2.2 billion which she has made through many successful businesses.
The Oprah Winfrey show ran for 25-years and she now own’s OWN – the Oprah Winfrey Network. She runs Oprah’s book club, published a magazine, opened a leadership academy for girl’s in South Africa and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
She’s currently talking race and division on Apple TV on “The Oprah Conversation,” in a two-part episode featuring a book written by Isabel Wilkerson called Caste. It’s available on audible: Caste – The Lies That Divide Us narrated by Robin Miles.
Oprah calls the book, “a must-read for all of humanity.”
Reginald F. Lewis
Born in 1942, Reginald F. Lewis was only alive for 50 short years. However, in those 5 decades, he left an indelible mark in paving the way forward for Black entrepreneurs. He was a business pioneer, and a well-known philanthropist and gives inspiration to many, especially if you repeat his mantra of “keep going, no matter what.”
Lewis was the first African American to close an overseas billion-dollar buyout deal. TLC Beatrice International Holdings Inc. is a global food company that had 64 companies under it and operated in 31 countries.
The company went dormant in the late 80s but was revived in 2007 and trades under its name from the 80s again – Beatrice Companies, Inc.
He was listed as one of the 400 richest Americans in 1993 by Forbes magazine and had a net worth of $400 million before his untimely death from brain cancer.
Aluxers, we’d love to hear from you! Let us know what’s the best business advice you’ve ever received and how it’s helped you in your business.