Madam C.J. Walker, a pioneer of African American entrepreneurship, was more than a business woman. She cared for her community just as much as she did for her business. As her brand grew over the years, so did her capabilities to fulfill her philanthropic desires by helping other African Americans in business and education. Today, Walker’s legacy is a direct continuation of the very values Madam C.J. Walker lived by during her time. We aim to engage with communities of multicultural women in business through civic engagement, business training and enrichment, education, and community involvement.
As Madam Walker grew to learn the hair care sales business, she put forth a tremendous effort to share her knowledge with her growing staff. Advocating for African American women’s economic independence, Walker created “Walker System” training programs for her national network of licensed sales agents. She employed over 40,000 men and women across the United States, the Caribbean, and Central America at the height of her dynasty.
Walker’s Legacy strives to carry on her vision through our nationwide business accelerator and educational programs for women. Our programs provide in-person discussions and panels featuring pertinent professional advice and personal insights on success in career and entrepreneurship. Influencing thousands of multicultural women across the U.S., our growing network boasts women in technology, politics, entrepreneurship, media, and more.
Civic Engagement & Involvement
Madam C.J. Walker was heavily engaged in her community to support and uplift the African American business women and their families despite the restrictive laws of a depressingly racist Jim Crow era. She was involved in multiple NAACP initiatives to combat lynching, connected with national civic and political leaders to push the important agenda surrounding women of color in business.
Over the last decade, Walker’s Legacy, too, leads with pride civically. We work with Congress, the Small Business Association (SBA), and the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) to engage and support minority owned business in our network. We’ve worked to successfully produce “Black Women Entrepreneurs: Exploring Past and Present Conditions of Black Women’s Business Ownership”, the first ever research study on black female entrepreneurship. Our founder, Natalie Cofield, also testified before Congress as the youngest person to testify on small business and entrepreneurship.
Madam Walker’s philanthropic and political outreach grew right along with her business endeavours. She financed tuition costs for African American students at the Tuskegee Institute, devoted time and money to the YMCA, became actively involved in the NAACP’s anti-lynching movement, poured thousands of dollars into black education, and vowed 66% of future net profits to charity before her passing.
When it comes to philanthropic leadership, the Walker’s Legacy Foundation exists as a non-profit arm to Walker’s Legacy Inc. It provides entrepreneurial, financial, and professional support needed to improve economic prosperity and reduce economic inequality for multicultural women and girls, globally. It currently runs programs to support low-income single mothers, funded and graduated more than 100 low-income moms by awarding over $5,000 in micro grant funding to them. Recently, Walker’s Legacy Foundation recently created an emergency student funding program, totaling $7,000, to support displaced students amid the 2020 Covid-19 crisis.
One of Madam Walker’s main goals was to build and enrich communities of black women locally and beyond. She invested much of her time educating the women around her on business engagement and sales tactics. As her career evolved, she developed national business chapters to keep African American business women engaged.
Currently, Walker’s Legacy’s reach consists of 15 local chapters across the country led by phenomenal, influential women. Our National City Directors work to implement the Walker’s Legacy mission to engage, inspire, and equip professional and entrepreneurial multicultural women through in-person programming, partnerships, and organizational collaboration. Cities in our network include New York, Durham, Greenville (SC), Jacksonville, Atlanta, Chicago, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Baton Rouge, Newark, Detroit, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Austin, and Charlotte.
Madam Walker was the first African American woman business leader to create an exclusive national conference for her brand. On August 30th and 31st, 1917, she hosted the first annual convention for her saleswomen and beauty influencers across the nation. Here, more than 200 women gathered to share messages and learn about entrepreneurship, political activism, and civic engagement. Her goal was to educate and inspire women of color to achieve financial empowerment and heavily influence them to contribute to local charities.
Walker’s Legacy is following in Madam Walker’s footsteps as it’s in the process of developing the 2020 conference PLATFORM Summit. Our national entrepreneurship summit connects multicultural women business leaders to discuss the best resources available to fund and grow multicultural woman-owned businesses and ventures. At the Summit, leaders in business, technology, entertainment, and civic engagement will convene for a content-packed program featuring industry expert-led panel discussions, executive fireside chats, collegiate leadership labs, one-on-one business counseling, and a national pitch competition.
Madam Walker was indeed a story teller. She used personally unique tactics to engage her team of highly profitable sales women to resonate with their customers and influence growth. Walker’s Legacy tells the stories of women of color in business every day! We value experiences that women of color in business face and strive to help them improve financially, emotionally, communaly, and in business.