20 Black Entrepreneurs You Need to Know

While starting a company is a nerve-wracking endeavor for anyone brave enough to try it, black entrepreneurs face silent challenges that threaten to stunt their business’ growth. Access to capital, struggling to be taken seriously, and difficulty owning their accomplishments are just a few of the difficulties plaguing black business founders and CEOs.

For women, it’s even more challenging. They experience what can be described as a ‘double-bias’ due to their race and gender. They struggle with being taken seriously and a lack of representation in businesses dominated by men.

Despite the obstacles they face on a daily basis, the number of black entrepreneurs has experienced a significant increase over the past few years. Here are just a few of the many black entrepreneurs that should have your attention.

Moziah Bridges

Moziah Bridges

Bridges started his business, ‘Mo’s Bows’ at just 9 years old, designing bowties from high-quality materials and selling them on Etsy. After appearing on Shark Tank at 12, he received a mentorship offer from Daymond John. Today, his handmade bowties are being sold in major retailers, and he recently received a 7-figure contract to provide bowties to NBA team members and staff.

Anne-Marie Imafidon

A child prodigy originating from Nigeria, Imafidon has a wide range of academic successes that range from being offered a scholarship to study mathematics at John Hopkins University to becoming the youngest ever to graduate with a master’s degree 19. In 2013, Imafidon launched Stemettes, which supports and inspires young girls and women interested in pursuing STEM careers.

Asmau Ahmed

Asmau Ahmed

Founder and CEO of Plum Perfect, Ahmed began her career as a chemical engineer. After struggling with color matching, she used her background to her advantage and spent 8 years analyzing over 16 million colors to refine and patent her idea. Plum Perfect mines color data in photos to assist shoppers with finding the perfect shades of makeup and apparel to compliment their skin tone and coloring.

Kathryn Finney

Keynoting the Ellevate Conference in Portland, OR

Finney founded digitalundivided, a company spearheading programs that develop creative initiatives promoting economic growth in minority communities. After eight years working as CEO for digitalundivided, Finney stepped down to focus on writing, subsequently becoming the black female author published with Portfolio/Penguin Books.

Angela Benton

Angela Benton

Founder and CEO of Streamlytics, Benton, created a system that measures media consumption across streaming platforms via reported data. Before Streamlytics, Benton started NewME Accelerator, a business that helps black business owners overcome the challenges they face gaining capital for their ideas. Her leadership paved the way for NewME Accelerator to raise over $47 million in venture capital funding, accelerating hundreds of deserving entrepreneurs’ careers.

Kimberly Bryant

Bryant is dedicated to assisting young women of color aged 7-17 get involved in technology and the computer science field, concentrating on entrepreneurship and business ownership concepts. She attributes her success to 25 years of experience as an Engineering Manager in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries and was named one of “The 25 Most Influential African-Americans in Technology” by Business Insider.

Jantrice Johnson

Frustrated by the wide gap between black and white homeownership in her area, Tennessee realtor Jantrice Johnson started the company Muka. Muka connects minority homebuyers and sellers with experienced local realtors that help to simplify the process. Additionally, Muka employs minority-owned vendors, including contractors, movers, and designers, to help them grow their network.

Wemimo Abbey

Wemimo Abbey

After feeling disheartened by the housing barriers facing working families, Wemimo started Esusa, a service that connects rental housing providers with landlords. Esusa works to assist families and individuals gain housing they otherwise would not have access to by reporting tenants’ rental payments to the three major credit bureaus. While not typically reported to the credit bureaus, on-time rent payments can help tenants raise their credit scores by up to 25-50 points, a huge jump that can mean the difference between being approved and denied housing.

Stefania Okolie

mikemcguff.com: Stefania Okolie launches Solely Fit athletic brand

Solely Fit, a luxury and body-inclusive clothing line was founded by Okolie and inspired by a desire to create a collection that would highlight women’s power, strength, and confidence. The line includes high-quality and functional pieces from leggings to bodysuits to sports bras. It’s frequently used by celebrity stylists and has been photographed on popular celebrities, including singer and actress Zendaya.

Kymberlee Jay

Business Coach Theme Defiance - About Kymberlee Jay

After starting her career as a background dancer for Madonna before becoming a choreographer, Jay made a huge career jump when she founded DoodleDirect. DoodleDirect is a business that designs video animations that help to boost companies’ internal and external communications. For her efforts, Jay was awarded the Arts and Media Rising Star award at the 2017 Black British Business Awards.

Justin Burns

Justin Burns (@justinburns) | Twitter

Founder of Miestro, Burns created a platform that allows course creators to further their expertise and create aesthetic and user-friendly courses via an all-in-one platform that can be launched to the public in just minutes. His program has been a life-saver for thousands of course creators that struggled to get their programs out to the public. In addition to helping connect course-creators with their intended audience, he penned the best-selling digital marketing book, ExpertCode.

Myriam Taylor

From War Refugee to Successful Entrepreneur -- Portugal-Based African Business Woman Creates New Chemical-Free Premium Haircare Product Line for Textured Hair

The daughter of Angolan refugees, Taylor took a break from the biotech industry and founded Muxima, a luxury haircare company. Frustrated by the lack of natural haircare companies and not wanting to use harsh chemicals, Taylor created a range of caviar-based haircare products that cater to textured hair without causing damage or using any harsh chemicals.

Maya Penn

Maya Penn's Ideas Inspire | American Libraries Magazine

At just eight years old, Penn founded ‘Maya’s Ideas’ a sustainable fashion company. Over the years, Penn has been recognized time and time again not just for her entrepreneurship but for her activism and philanthropy. Most notably, Penn invests in charitable initiatives such as developing sustainable hygiene products for women and girls and providing them with healthcare facilities in developing countries. She is also an author, speaker and has been recognized as a ‘SuperSoul 100 Entrepreneur’ by Oprah Winfrey.

Cashmere Nicole

Forbes: How CEO Cashmere Nicole Built A $5M Brand While Battling Breas

During her ultimately successful fight with breast cancer, Cashmere Nicole became conscious of the potential toxins she was putting inside her body every day. To combat this, she developed Beauty Bakerie, a cosmetic brand using only high-quality and healthy ingredients. In addition to being founder and CEO of Beauty Bakerie, she uses her platform to raise awareness on injustices on issues from missing and exploited children to the Black Lives Matter Movement and more.

Freddie Figgers

Inventor Freddie Figgers Becomes One Of America's Youngest Telecommunications Leaders - Figgers Communications

Abandoned in a dumpster as a newborn, Figgers grew to become an inventor, entrepreneur, and the youngest person in history to hold an FCC license, which allows him to operate his own cellphone company. He founded Figgers Communication, a company that produces proprietary handsets and offers its own cellphone network.

Mignon Francois

Started from humble beginnings, Francois’ company The Cupcake Collection is now a multi-million dollar enterprise. Francois began selling homemade cupcakes as a way to get herself out of debt while supporting six children. Despite the enormous growth her company has seen, Francois continues to keep things simple and bake her cupcakes in the home where she raised her family.

Bea Arthur

The Difference | Backstage Capital

Bea Arthur is an accomplished therapist, speaker, and author. Her main focus is directed towards helping high-performing individuals make their way through stressful work environments. Through this work, Arthur founded The Difference, a start-up that allows on-demand access to therapists via Alexa. The Difference is Alexa’s first mental health skill and was created in order to make mental health treatment more accessible for all. Arthur has received a great deal of positive attention for her important work, including being named an Entrepreneur to Bet On by Newsweek Magazine.

Caryn Ward Ross

Caryn Ward Ross (@carynwardross) | Twitter

An actress and small business owner, Ross created MediTEAtions, a premium loose-leaf tea and tonic company. Ross felt that the world needed a soothing product that can be shared by friends and family alike. Inspired by her grandmother, with whom she shared a love of meditation and prayer, Ross wanted to create what she calls a ‘liquid meditation experience’ that inspires positive affirmations and living with intention.

Johanan Dujon

St Lucia's Johanan Dujon makes Forbes 30 Under 30 list | CBR

Dujon used the seaweed overwhelming Caribbean beaches and harvested it for good. Understanding seaweed’s use to farmers, he used it to found Algas Organics, a company that has garnered support from both United Nations Development Programme and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture. His product, Algas Total Plant Tonic, is an all-natural solution to improving the nutrient uptake efficiency of plants. He believes that this will be an integral step towards sustainable agriculture and will help solve food insecurity during the uncertainty and challenges of climate change.

Meet Don Daszkowski Founder of IFPG

Hi Don, can you tell me more about yourself and your company IFPG?

I am the Founder Member of the International Franchise Professionals Group (IFPG); we help people fulfill their business ownership dream. The IFPG is a membership-based organization with more than 1,000 Franchisors, Franchise Consultants, and Vendors. Together, our members guide aspiring business owners through the process of identifying and investing in a franchise business. IFPG has been ranked by Entrepreneur Magazine #1 Franchise Broker Network a few years in a row. Before IFPG, I founded Business Mart, a B2B online marketplace for individuals interested in buying and selling businesses. Three years after its launch Business Mart was acquired by a publicly-traded company.

Can you help us understand how you help people become franchise owners?

My company (IFPG) offers a training program for entrepreneurs to become Certified Franchise Consultants. Just like real estate agents, these Franchise Consultants act as intermediaries between their client (the potential franchisee) and the Franchisor. Our Franchise Consultants counsel people who are considering franchise ownership. The consultant guides them through selecting, evaluating, and buying a franchise business. Many times they help people avoid making a poor life-changing decision. Many people who want to own a franchise want freedom from the 9-5 world and often look at food franchises first. A food franchise demands lots of time from the franchisee. There are hundreds of other non-food-related franchises that have an outstanding work/life balance.  

Should someone who is working a 9 – 5 job take the leap and run their own business?

I encourage anyone who has the motivation to run their own business, to leave the 9-5 world. But, I do suggest to start researching and building the foundation for your business while still working. One of my first serious businesses was a high-end retail e-commerce website. I created the entire website while I was still working. (Hopefully, my former employer isn’t reading this!) It allowed me to quit my job and already have my future lined up.

You have run and built many successful businesses; what’s your top tip to creating a successful business?

Prioritize your goals. For example, I have a list of tasks for each week. The list is prioritized depending on the amount of revenue each item might bring in. So if I get an idea that I feel could increase my income by 10% and I have another idea that will increase revenue by about 2%, the higher revenue increaser will hit the top of the list. Of course, you need to do your projections to make these estimates. I will always create a Google Doc to figure out my projections for all new ideas before launching them

How have you been able to compete at such a high level in your space? Do you have any tips for other entrepreneurs dominating the niche they are in?

Always keep your big picture in mind and focus on your main objective. For example, if you plan to become the top blogger in your industry, don’t do paid reviews on nonrelevant topics to make a quick buck. I see so many people who create successful online business models, but then they are lured into something else that will ruin their website’s quality to make a quick dollar. Slow and steady wins the race.

With so much uncertainty in the world, should people still be thinking about starting their own business?

Absolutely. The days of having a safe and secure job, getting raises each year, and then retiring are over. As I mentioned earlier, people who are currently employed and considering starting their own business should start building their business while getting paid by their current employer. This will decrease their percentage of risk.

What would you say is the biggest single reason for your success?

Prioritization and always focusing on the big picture are probably my strong points. Since the day I started my first business, I have always had the same goals in mind. I always focus heavily on 2-3 core services and don’t get distracted by other bells and whistles. I rarely jump into new opportunities without doing lots of research, and I always make projections and evaluate the potential of a new idea. I never start a business just because “It sounds like a good idea.” I am a true believer in the lean startup approach, which is a book by Eric Ries.

If you could go back in a time machine to when you were just getting started, what advice would you give yourself regarding making money online?

I started my first internet business my freshman year in college. It was a New York City Nightlife website. The website allowed individuals who did not have a personal relationship with a promoter to access exclusive “guest lists” online. I focused a lot of my time worrying about revenue and not about keeping a loyal user base. If I focused my time on building an online community, I might not have sold that website. Who knows, I could still be running it today. I have learned that you should worry first about gaining loyal users, and then everything else falls into place. If you have an online business with a very dedicated audience and lots of traffic, it will be worth more money if you decide to sell it. Anyone can create an excellent service online, but having loyal users and a large amount of traffic is critical.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

I worked with a Creative Director many years ago while working at an agency in New York City. I was designing a logo and stressing out over the way it looked. I wasn’t happy with it and spent so much time tweaking it. He said to me, “Don’t stress over it; the logo will evolve over time.” I have taken this advice and applied it to my business. Every business evolves over time. I now always build out projects in phases. This allows me to take my time and continue working on the projects that generate the most revenue, and the others will then get tossed in the garbage or put on hold.

Are there any books you suggest other entrepreneurs add to their “must-read” list?

Yes! As I mentioned earlier The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and also Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. I tell all young entrepreneurs these two books they must read.

What is a favorite quote that has inspired you?

My favorite quote is “preparation meets opportunity.” This quote was from the Roman philosopher Seneca. I genuinely believe this is the meaning of success. Luck rarely plays a part in a successful entrepreneur’s journey; it is hard work and a lot of preparation and planning. If you are always prepared (and think five years) ahead when an opportunity presents itself, you will be prepared and ready. I named my boat “Preparation Meets Opportunity” as a constant reminder for my children and me to always remember.

What Degree do you need to be an Entrepreneur?

If you are looking for an entrepreneurship degree, this resource will help you. You have many options to choose from, including obtaining your entrepreneur degree online. If you consider yourself a young entrepreneur, this is the next obvious step.

We have created this guide to help you determine which entrepreneurship degree may be right for you and help you better understand what jobs you can get with a business entrepreneurship degree. 

We have compiled a list of the top schools that offer entrepreneurship degrees online and in the classroom.

Southern New Hampshire University

SNHU’s online BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship can help you learn how to breathe life into your business plans without quitting your day job. Small Business Management, Entrepreneurship, and Business Plan Preparation. This program is accredited by both NECHE and ACBSP.
Offered Online: Yes
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Walden University

Walden University’s ACBSP-accredited B.S. in Business Administration program combines academic theory with practical applications to provide a real-world perspective on business operating essentials. Walden is the first U.S. online university offering data science courses developed in partnership with IBM. Choose from nine concentrations, each designed to meet the real demands of today’s job marketplace. This program is accredited by ACBSP.
Offered Online: Yes
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Forbes School of Business and Technology

The Forbes School of Business and Technology degree is offered by the University of Arizona Global Campus. The Bachelor of Arts in Entrepreneurship provides the fundamental knowledge and skills you will need to start your own business successfully or apply in other business settings. This program is accredited by WSCUC.
Offered Online: Yes
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Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University offers a Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurial Studies program. It is offered by GCU’s Colangelo College of Business. You will accelerate your learning, gain a deepened understanding of public relations, operations management, and ethical leadership while exploring the fundamentals of finance and accounting with this entrepreneurship degree. This program is accredited by ACBPS.
Offered Online: Yes
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Liberty University

Build practical skills in opportunity identification, vision and team building, funding, and lean management through Liberty University’s B.S. in Business Administration: Entrepreneurship program. This program helps students master entrepreneurial skills and prepares graduates for careers as a family business or franchise owners. This program is accredited by ACBPS.
Offered Online: Yes
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Arizona State University

In the Arizona State University innovation and entrepreneur program, you will learn to develop a new product or company from ideation to launch. You will learn how to identify problems and implement solutions. Arizona State University offers entrepreneurship undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, 100% online. ASU Online is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Offered Online: Yes
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DeVry University

This small business and entrepreneurship degree focuses on customer relations, budgeting, forecasting, e-commerce, and other small business topics. You will develop and strengthen the skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur. This program is accredited by ACBSP.
Offered Online: Yes
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