THE MOST SUCCESSFUL WOMEN IN THE WORLD
SELF MADE ENTERPRENEURS
Today, the list of women entrepreneurs spans many industries. Below is a list of the 10 most successful women entrepreneurs who have made a significant mark in recent decades. This list is in no particular order, and by no means exhaustive, but strives to recognize women who have built a world-renowned brand through their own hard work and strong drive.
Zhang Xin | Real Estate
Zhang Xin is co-founder of SOHO China, a real estate development firm in China that went public in 2007. Known as “the woman who built Beijing,” she was once a factory worker, later graduating from Cambridge University with a master’s degree in economic development. Zhang worked for Goldman Sachs before launching her company; she has since amassed a $3 billion fortune.
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is the founder of Biocon, an Indian biopharma company. She began Biocon out of a rented shed and grew it into India’s largest listed biopharma firm in terms of revenue. Biocon, a global company, went public in 2004 and became only the second Indian company to reach $1 billion on its first trading day. Mazumdar-Shaw is India’s wealthiest self-made woman, with a net worth of $4 billion, according to Forbes, as of February 2022.
Janice Bryant Howroyd is the founder of ActOne Group, the first Black female-led company to bring in more than $1 billion in annual revenue. ActOne is primarily an employment agency and consultancy based in Los Angeles. It has more than 17,000 clients in 19 countries and, like many of her counterparts on this list, Howroyd started from very humble beginnings.
Media mogul Oprah Winfrey continues to build her media empire. Winfrey, a TV personality turned entrepreneur, co-founded Oxygen Media, a cable station. She continued hosting her talk show until 2011, after which she created OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, of which she is the CEO. In 2015, Winfrey bought an equity stake in Weight Watchers International and became a spokeswoman for the popular subscription weight loss program. Winfrey’s net worth is $2.6 billion, according to Forbes.
The singer-songwriter, who started as part of Destiny’s Child in the mid-1990s, has since become a huge top-selling female solo artist and a global brand. Beyoncé signed a $50 million endorsement deal with PepsiCo in 2012. Through her company, Parkwood Entertainment, Beyoncé produces movies, music, and clothing. In 2019, she signed a $60 million contract with Netflix to provide content to the streaming service.
Arianna Huffington | Entertainment & Media
Arianna Huffington launched the news website The Huffington Post in 2005. She later sold it to AOL in 2011 but continued to guide it and grow the Huffington brand overseas. In 2016, she stepped down from The Huffington Post to launch health and wellness startup Thrive Global, which she leads as CEO. Time Magazine has included her in its list of the world’s 100 most influential people.
Tory Burch | Fashion & Beauty
Founder of her namesake company, Tory Burch launched the U.S.-based clothing and fashion line in 2004. The brand now brings in $1.5 billion in sales annually. She is included in Forbes’ list of most powerful women in the world in 2020. Burch is also a philanthropist who launched the Tory Burch Foundation to support women entrepreneurs.
The inventor of Spanx undergarments for women and men, Blakely started with only $5,000 of her own money, an idea, and pure drive.
Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields
The co-founders of skincare and multilevel marketing company Rodan + Fields felt so strongly about eradicating acne for all ages that they joined together to develop their flagship product, Proactiv, in 1995. The makers have since taken the dermatologic knowledge that helped them conquer the acne market to the anti-aging skincare market.
At just 34 years old, Rihanna is the youngest woman on this list. The superstar singer has made most of her $1.7 billion fortune from Fenty Beauty, a cosmetics line that she co-owns with luxury goods group LVMH. She also co-owns Savage X Fenty, a lingerie line, with investors. Her foundation, the Clara Lionel Foundation, raised $47 million for climate, racial justice, COVID-related relief, and other causes in 2020. Rihanna is listed in Forbes’ 2020 America’s Richest Self-Made Women.