#GIRLBOSS What Does It Mean To Be A Black Entrepreneur in 2017?


For many of us, we grow tired of the long, countless hours staring at a computer screen, dead ends jobs, difficult bosses, and bumper to bumper traffic. We have aspirations of developing our own unique businesses and creative projects, setting our own schedules and hours, and accomplishing more for the greater good.

With the rise of black-owned business in America, it seems as if now n’ days, if you can dream it, you can achieve it! If you have a catchy brand, large social media following, and savvy business sense, you too, can call yourself an entrepreneur. Seems simple right?! . . . The reality is that building a successful business is much harder than it looks.

One of the first Black female entrepreneurs and the inspiration behind the Walker’s Legacy organization, Madam C.J. Walker aka “the first black female self-made millionaire” made her fortune by developing a line of beauty products for Black women’s hair. In the 1800s, this was unheard of for a woman, let alone a black woman, to own her own business. Walker has blazed the trail for other legendary black female entrepreneurs such as Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes and Tyra Banks.

They’ve taken the idea that “women can’t run no business” and tossed it to the wind.

We now have the opportunity to follow so many other great black female business leaders. But for many, the rise to success does not come without its problems and concerns. A number of black entrepreneurs still battle issues of racism, diversity and equal pay within the business world.

To be a successful entrepreneur you must first develop a vison and passion for your business. In order to deal with all the trials and tribulations that lie ahead with starting your own business, it is important to remember that at the end of the day, your great love and passion for what you are doing. Loving what you do will make all the difference by helping you to stay on track and focus on your overall goal.

“In order to call yourself a C.E.O., it seems as if you have to always be one step ahead of the rest. Faster, stronger, and smarter for them to take you seriously.”Mercedes B. Jackson, Howard University Senior

Another piece of advice is, “tuning the negativity out.” During the tough times, it is important to stay focused on your goal and block out the “nay-sayers”. In the words of Spider-man, remember that with “great power, comes great responsibility.” Stay calm and collected and focus on your goal. Stay organized and research your business, so that you are ready and prepared when you are thrown a curve ball. Don’t be afraid to take a “woo-sah” moment to collect your thoughts and then get ready to get back to work and slay!

Below is a list of just a few inspiring black female entrepreneurs. Keep working hard and your name to will be on that list!

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” – Dr. Maya Angelou

List of 25 Black Women Entrepreneurs

  1. Madam C.J. Walker (First Black Female Self-Made Millionaire)
  2. Tyra Banks (Model/TV Producer)
  3. Iman (Model/Iman Cosmetics)
  4. Janice Bryant Howroyd (Employment Staffing Firm)
  5. Oprah Winfrey (OWN Network)
  6. Tina Wells (Buzz Marketing Group)
  7. Lisa Price (Carol’s Daughter)
  8. Cathy Hughes (Radio One)
  9. Queen Latifah (Flavor Unit Entertainment)
  10. Shonda Rhimes (Writer, Director, Producer)
  11. Sheila Johnson (BET)
  12. Corvida Raven (shegeeks.net)
  13. Beverly Johnson (Beverly Johnson Hair Collection)
  14. Mara Brock Akil (Akil Productions)
  15. Angela Benton (Cued, BlackWeb 2.0, NewMe Accelarator)
  16. Tracy Reese (Tracy Reese and Plenty Fashion Lines)
  17. Kimberly Dillon (House of Mikko)
  18. Tina Knowles (House of Dereon)
  19. Vanessa and Angela Simmons (Pastry Shoe Company)
  20. Kimora Lee Simmons (Baby Phat, KLS Collection, KLS Design Group)
  21. Kita and Mo (Define Your Pretty)
  22. Birame Sock (Third Solutions)
  23. Tasha Smith (Tasha Smith Actors Workshop)
  24. Shaunie O’Neal (Amitah Productions)
  25. Mahisha Dellinger (CURLS)


Shannan Burrell

Campus Contributor

Shannan Dione Burrell was born in Heidelberg, Germany. Growing up, she thrived in the areas of performing arts, participating in dance, theater, and music. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism from Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia, in 2010 and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Film and Video at American University, Washington D.C., where she is scheduled to graduate May of 2017. Shannan has always had a passion for volunteering and helping others within her community. She has been an active member of her church Emmanuel AME Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Throughout her years at Emmanuel, she has participated in numerous ministries including the Praise Dance Ministry, Young Adult Ministry, Youth Ministry, and Women’s Ministry. Shannan grew up a member of the Girl Scouts of America organization. Her 12 years as a Girl Scout prepared her to become an effective volunteer within the community and a role model for young women. Shannan is currently volunteering with the Best Kids mentoring program in Washington, D.C., which specializes in mentoring inner city youth and foster children. Shannan also has a passion and vison for storytelling through media. She has over 10 years of experience within the media field, which includes numerous internships with companies including Arena Stage Theater in Washington D.C., The Ft. Belvoir Eagle Newspaper in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, Clear Channel Communications in Rockville, Maryland and Gannett/USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Her many years of experience have prompted her to write, direct, and produce over 15 original productions for her church and community. Shannan’s mentors and role models are that of her family, church family, and fellow aspiring African American women in the media field such as Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey, who have worked at paving the way for minority storytellers within the entertainment industry. Shannan hopes one day to open up a production company for minorities, which will inspire, motivate, and empower them to follow their passions through the arts. Shannan’s favorite scripture is Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” She credits this verse for inspiring her to overcome all obstacles within her life and to work hard to succeed and excel at being a good role model for young women within her church and community.

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Walker's Legacy is a growing global women in business collective founded to establish networks of empowerment and access for women of color in business.