Black entrepreneurs are among some of the most impactful business people in the world despite the hurdles they face. They have founded and led some of the big businesses in the world and they cut across various industries.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 Annual Business Survey estimated 140,918 Black-owned businesses with employees in the country. The report adds that they earn $141.1 billion in annual receipts and employ 1.3 million workers.
Also, a report released by Intuit QuickBooks on the “Black entrepreneurial experience in America” showed that “in addition to the pressures of running a business, Black business owners must navigate racism and biases that threaten their success.”
Despite these challenges, successful black entrepreneurs have emerged across the globe. This publication highlights some of the most famous and influential black entrepreneurs in the world who have transformed multiple sectors.
According to Forbes, Dangote has a net worth of $12.7 billion while Bloomberg puts his net worth at 19.0 billion. He makes his money largely from Dangote Cement, one of Africa’s most successful and recognizable brands. His cement factory has the capacity to produce 48.6 million metric tons annually and has operations in 10 countries across Africa.
In addition to his cement factory, Dangote is also into the production of sugar and until recently, fertilizer and oil refinery. He recently opened a refinery, considered one of the largest in the world. What is more, he is also into the assembling of cars under the name Dangote Peugeot Automobiles Nigeria Limited (DPAN). The assembling of the vehicles started with the Land Trek, 3008, 5008 and the new 508.
Oprah Winfrey has established herself as one of the most renowned media personalities, not only in the U.S. but across the globe. She started her career in media as a teenager and eventually cemented her position as the queen of talk shows. Her journey has been quite a roller coaster, nonetheless, she overcame challenges and trauma to reach a height where she became a global idol, icon, and entrepreneur with a net worth of over a billion dollars.
At age 19, she landed a radio job as a co-anchor for the local evening news while in high school. She was re-assigned to the daytime talk show, which exposed her to a world of opportunities. As a talk show host, she popularized and revolutionized modern-day TV. Today, Winfrey is one of the richest women in the world.
Aside from being a media personality, she has a business life that is rarely talked about. Winfrey is a prolific investor with stakes in several businesses. Her numerous businesses and other revenue streams made her one of the earliest Black females to become a billionaire.
Robert L. Johnson
Robert Johnson is an entrepreneur, media mogul, investor and philanthropist. He co-founded Black Entertainment Television (BET) and was a former majority owner of North Carolina’s Charlotte Bobcats. He also founded the RLJ Companies that invest in other businesses.
Johnson launched BET in 1980 after he left the National Cable and Television Association NCTA where he was vice president of government relations. Prior to that, he served as the public affairs director for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and also worked as the director of communications for the Washington, D.C. office of the National Urban League.
He launched BET which only aired for two hours on Friday night. It took five years to turn in profit from the first cable television network aimed at African Americans. It became the first black-controlled company listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1991.
Viacom acquired BET in 2000 for a reported $3 billion and Johnson remained CEO until 2006. His RLJ holding company was still raking in money from its offices around the world including Monrovia, Liberia. Johnson served as a member of several boards including the NBA Board of Governors, The Business Council, and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
He became the first African-American majority club owner of a major American sports league with his 2002 purchase of the Charlotte Bobcats which he sold to Michael Jordan in 2010.
In 2014, Michael Jordan became the first athlete to become a billionaire – his massive net worth was largely influenced by his deal with Nike, which would later give birth to Air Jordan.
Jordan, since retiring from the NBA, took to entrepreneurship and also became one of the few Black billionaires in the world. A large chunk of his wealth comes from his paycheck from Nike, which has been his biggest financial and marketing backer.
The over 36-year partnership with Nike has earned Jordan $1.3 billion and counting, and in 2022, Forbes estimated his net worth to be $1.7 billion. The latest estimates of his net worth show that it has increased by $300 million.
This implies that Jordan’s net worth is now $2 billion, according to Forbes. The source of his net worth includes his stake in Charlotte Hornets, a professional basketball franchise situated in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a minor stake in DraftKings.
As of June 2023, Jay-Z’s net worth is estimated at $2.5 billion. The musician-turned-entrepreneur, born Shawn Carter in 1969, has made a name for himself as one of the best rappers in the world who is unearthing music talents. While still active in music, he ventured into entrepreneurship through the launch of multiple business and startup investments.
His move into entrepreneurship paid off as a series of deals by the rapper saw his net worth increase by 40 percent, according to the recent valuation of his assets. For instance, he sold more than half of his stake in Tidal video and audio streaming services to Square, a digital payment platform run by Jack Dorsey.
Square paid a mix of cash and stock at the value of $297 million and Tidal’s superstar shareholders, including Beyoncé, Madonna, and Rihanna remained in place, making them the second-largest co-owners. Jay-Z also has holdings in Uber, SpaceX, and now Square. He has shares in Oatmilk company, Oatly.
American actor, playwright, director and entrepreneur Tyler Perry, like many successful black people, started his journey from a humble beginning. He grew up in a poor home and had an abusive father. At one point, Perry had to make a home in his car; however, he is a celebrity billionaire today.
In 2020, the veteran Hollywood filmmaker and business mogul became a new member of the “billionaires club” with a net worth of $1 billion. One of the contributory factors to Perry’s success and rise on the financial ladder is credited to his exclusive 100% ownership of his works.
Per a breakdown of his fortune done by Forbes, Perry earned $300 million in cash and investments, $320 million from his catalog of movies, shows, plays, etc, $280 million for his 330-acre Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, $60 million for his BET+ equity stake and $40 million in homes and toys.
Born Earvin Johnson Jr., Magic Johnson is an NBA Hall of Famer who was first inducted in 2002 for his individual career, and again in 2010 as a member of the Dream Team. His illustrious career in the NBA spanned seventeen years, from 1979 to 1996.
First drafted in 1979, Johnson entered the league and played point guard for the Lakers for 13 seasons. His career achievements include three NBA MVP Awards, nine NBA Finals appearances, 12 All-Star games, and 10 All-NBA First and Second Team nominations.
While enjoying his career as an NBA player, Johnson had an eye for business. His desire to become a businessman when his basketball career ended made him build a connection with legendary super-agent Michael Ovitz to teach him how to be a successful businessman. Since retiring from the NBA, he has made one business move after the other. He has over 100 Starbucks stores in several cities, including Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Atlanta, San Diego, Washington D.C., and San Francisco. Additionally, he owned several Burger King restaurants in diverse locations. In 2004, he bought 30 Burger King restaurants in Atlanta, Birmingham, Dallas, and Miami, and later sold them for $15 million, The Sports Rush reported.
In 2015, Johnson made a big push into the financial services sector. He added a 60% acquisition of a Life Insurance Company to his business portfolio. The NBA legend recently expanded his business empire after officially becoming co-owner of the Washington Commanders.
Stephen Harvey is an American comedian, broadcaster, show host, author, and businessman. He is widely known for his popular show “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” and as host of game shows such as “Family Feud” and “Celebrity Family Feud”.
Harvey was born on January 17, 1957, in Welch, West Virginia to Jesse Harvey, a coal miner, and Eloise Vera. When he was young, his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he attended Glenville High School and then continued to Kent State University and later West Virginia University.
Harvey had his breakthrough when he emerged as a finalist in the Second Annual Johnnie Walker National Comedy Search in 1990. He landed a spot as the host of the TV show “It’s Showtime at the Apollo,” replacing Mark Curry in the role. That was how he broke into the comedy industry and has since not looked back.