The entrepreneurial journey of each is different. But this can help to look at those who came before you for inspiration. And there are so many great entrepreneurs throughout history who have traced paths for business owners today. Here are 20 black entrepreneurs who have marked history, both recently and in past centuries.
One of the biggest names in the world of business and entertainment, Winfrey has built a whole collection of companies, including his talk show, his television networks, his magazine, his films, his books and more.
Mrs. C.J. Walker
Walker is known as the first self-made millionaire woman in America. She built her fortune by creating a line of beauty and hair products for black women.
Amos is the entrepreneur behind Famous Amos Cookies. He first started making cookies to send to potential customers while working as a talent agent. But he then opened a store and built a whole business around cookies.
Reese is a fashion designer who has had her clothing lines featured in Bloomingdale, Neiman Marcus and other popular retail outlets. She also has her own flagship store and has designed for big customers like Michelle Obama.
Robert L. Johnson
Johnson is the co-founder of the BET television network. He has also founded a holding company called The RLJ Companies, among other investments and businesses over the years.
The former professional boxer is perhaps almost as famous for his range of George Foreman Grill baking products, as he helped design and endorse the public face of the brand.
Known primarily for her philanthropic work, Brown was a former slave who got her freedom and went to earn a fortune during Colorado's gold rush by investing in gold mining properties. From there, she used her money to try to find her children and ended up saving other former slaves.
The record holder is best known for having founded the popular Motown label, which was one of the most profitable African-American companies for decades and which has also led to projects in the fields of film, television and theater.
John H. Johnson
Entrepreneur and publisher, Johnson is best known for having founded the magazines Jet and Ebony, among other publications mainly under these brands.
Gordon was born a slave and eventually bought his freedom and moved to Cincinnati, where he bought a coal yard and ran it so successfully he was able to resist the attempts of his competitors to drive him out of business.
One of the first African-American women to become multi-millionaire, Malone launched a number of companies at the turn of the century, including a cosmetics company and a beauty college.
Formerly known as Puff Daddy, Combs is also known for his own fashion line, Sean John, as well as a pair of restaurants and even a few beverage companies.
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The old model actually has several different businesses, including television production, a fashion and beauty website and its own line of cosmetics.
Former slave of Virginia, Temple was a blacksmith who invented several products, including an iron harpoon.
Hughes is the founder of Urban One, the company behind Radio One and TV One, entertainment networks created specifically for the African-American public.
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Tyler Perry is best known for his film work and actor. But he is also an entrepreneur, with his own production company, Tyler Perry Studios, who is responsible for his film projects and other works.
Mr. Frazier is President and Chief Executive Officer of Merck & Co., one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies. He joined the company as general counsel because he already had a successful legal career.
Beyonce's mother, Knowles became a successful entrepreneur on her own. She has several clothing lines, including Miss Tina and House of Dereon brands.
Granville T. Woods
Sometimes referred to as "Black Edison", Woods held more than 50 patents for various mechanical and electronic inventions in the years following the Civil War. Among other inventions, Woods has contributed to the technology that led to the phone and the tram.
Walker is the founder and CEO of Network Solutions Provider, a multimillion-dollar technology integration company that has grown exponentially since its launch in 2008.
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