From their backgrounds to their companies and where they are today, these women entrepreneurs have done wonders for the business world and for themselves.
Entrepreneurship is a tough journey, especially for women who have to go head-to-head with way more challenges. Despite a long history of adversity, women continue to leave a legacy of perseverance and tenacity. This isn’t something we say; it’s the numbers that speak. In the past two decades, the number of women entrepreneurs has risen by 114%. As of 2021, women account for 252 million of the world’s 582 million entrepreneurs.
Besides, 13% of 309 unicorns (startups making more than US$1 billion) have women founders or co-founders. An increasing number of women are breaking social constraints by starting their own businesses, encouraging change, equality and inclusivity in all sectors around the world.
To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, we have sorted out a list of women entrepreneurs from all around the world that are making huge impacts in the business world. Let’s appreciate and applaud how women are tearing down barriers and creating a much more diverse and inclusive atmosphere in entrepreneurship.
Zhang Xin: Ruling the Real Estate World
Zhang Xin, also known as Xin Zhang and Xin “Shynn” Zhang, is a Chinese billionaire businesswoman in the real estate industry. Zhang is frequently cited as one of the world’s top businesswomen. Her net worth, combined with her husband’s, exceeds US$3 billion, keeping her on the list of the world’s richest self-made billionaire women.
She, along with her husband Pan Shiyi, co-founded Soho China. The company is known for its innovative collaborations with international architects that have changed the face of China’s skylines. Furthermore, she is known as “The Woman Who Built Beijing” for developing Beijing’s cityscape with massive structures.
Zhang moved to Hong Kong with her mom when she was 15, and she saved up to study overseas by working in a factory for four years. At 19, she flew to London to study English at a secretarial school in Oxford. At 22, she was awarded a scholarship to study economics at the University of Sussex.
Later, she also graduated with a master’s degree in development economics at Cambridge University. Before founding Soho China, she also worked on Wall Street for Goldman Sachs and Travelers Group. Despite being raised in tough circumstances, she worked hard with immense dedication along the way and became successful.
Janice Bryant Howroyd: A Game Changer in Education and Employment Industries
Janice Bryant Howroyd is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ActOne Group. The company is a major player in offering customized, cutting-edge solutions in the human resources market. She is a businesswoman, entrepreneur, educator, ambassador, author, mentor and Presidential Special Appointee.
Bryant Howroyd, who was appointed to former President Obama’s board of advisors for HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities), has spent her whole career as a changemaker in both the education and employment industries. In her new book “Acting Up”, Bryant Howroyd describes how, despite the sexism and racism she experienced while building ActOne, nothing could stop her from becoming the first black woman to lead a billion-dollar business.
Sara Blakely: An American businesswoman and philanthropist
Sara Blakely launched the now-famous American shapewear startup Spanx in 2000, despite having no expertise in design, retail or business leadership. Starting with just US$5,000, Blakely has grown Spanx, which has been profitable since its birth, into a successful brand that makes more than US$400 million each year.
Following a significant acquisition with private equity company Blackstone, her net worth has risen to an impressive US$1.2 billion at the age of 50 in 2020.
Vani Kola: Ruling the investment world
Vani Kola is one of the leading venture capitalists in India, who believes it’s the time for next-gen companies to set up business in her home country. She and her firm have invested more than US$1 billion into Indian startups since their inception. As the Founder and Managing Director of Kalaari Capital, one of India’s leading early-stage venture capital companies, Vani gained a deep understanding of what it takes to build successful startups. Her investment philosophy is based on her own entrepreneurial experiences as well as her experience working with entrepreneurs in various capacities over the last 15 years.
Vani has led more than thirty investments at Kalaari. Some of her successes include Dream11 (an online fantasy sports platform), Myntra (an online fashion e-commerce platform), Cure.fit (a health and fitness company offering digital and offline experiences) and Snapdeal (an e-commerce platform). Vani also serves on the boards of other companies, like Urban Ladder (an omnichannel furniture and decor retailer), that are redefining the landscape of Indian business spaces.
Susan Wojcicki: An American business executive
Born in California, Susan Wojcicki studied history and literature at Harvard University. Wojcicki was one of the founding employees of Google. Back in 1998, she rented her garage to Google co-Founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. One year later, she became the company’s marketing manager. Under her leadership,
Women entrepreneurs have been breaking down existing barriers, such as limited access to funding and stiff competition, and establishing a pedestal for themselves in fields that have traditionally been dominated by men. Let’s raise our glasses to all the larger-than-life women entrepreneurs!
Header image courtesy of Pixabay