Last year, I went through history to my network to find black women entrepreneurs that inspired me. Since that time, I started to work for and volunteer with non-profits. I also recently became the President of my son’s Home and School Association. With that experience, I have a different level of respect on how much passion and leadership is needed to run a social enterprise. You have find your mission, find others that believe in your mission, create a momentum and inspire change. And this is the change that impacts our world. It is fair to say women-owned businesses fill needs that touches their clients’ soul.
Please take the time to read, share their stories with your network and donate to these great causes. You will actually change lives.
Our Original Pioneers
Mary McLeod Bethune
There have been so many women who paved the way, took on challenges and inspire us with their sheer determination. But when you are one of 17 and the daughter of former slaves and you become one of the leading voices for the rights of Black America, you deserve the number one spot on my list.
I am going to assume that most of you have heard of her. If not, please start your journey on Wikipedia. For me and for the women on this list, we need to acknowledge her independence, fierceness of spirit and intuitive ability to understand that education was key to the advancement of our race. Those character traits are what is in the DNA of today’s women entrepreneurs. She was all this and more. Remember that this was the times where society thought of us, BLACK and a woman, as less than.
When you read her quote, you understand that she was all about US and understood that the measure of a society, is how you treat US.
“The true worth of a race must be measured by the character of its womanhood. – Mary McLeod BethuneTweet
Sisterhood at its Finest
One of the characteristics that I love about entrepreneurs is that if someone closes a door in our face, we build a better door. That is the story behind the African-American sororities. White sororities tried to stomp on our college experience by telling us “NO”. We were told that we couldn’t have the sisterhood that allowed us to share dreams, depend on each other and achieve upward mobility with a shared sense of self that the white girls had.
So guess what was created in 1908 by did nine women on Howard’s University campus do? These women created Alpha Kappa Alpha and the African American sorority was born. Today there are four, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta and Sigma Gamma Rho. These sororities with over 200,000 women have dedicated their lives to the service of others and especially the African-American woman.
Our Health Matters
Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison – GirlTrek
What started as a college friendship and saying YES to being healthy has turned into Girl Trek. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison just started walking in their neighborhood, invited their friends and family and created a movement that is fighting for Black Women’s health.
Today, it is one of the largest public health organizations for black women and boasts of over 300, 000 members. It is all about self care. It encourages black women, 80% of which are overweight, to WALK!
Although I knew that a lot of my communities bad eating habits were part of our slavery history, I never really made the tie in to health. I’m glad Girl Trek did. It is on a mission a mission to have 1 million women pledge to walk 30 minutes a day by 2020. Sign its pledge here. https://www.girltrek.org/weareharriet
Black women carry the trauma of systemic racism and serving other people before taking care of themselves, and it’s killing them. – Morgan Dixon and Vanessa GarrisonTweet
Dazon Dixon Diallo – Sister Love
Sister Love is an organization that started the fight against AIDS for Black Women/ We were overlooked and understudied segments in the fight against AIDs and yet we were dying. Someone had to stand up and Dazon Dixon Diallo did. Today. it is has expanded its services to advocate for all women that are marginalized or uncounted when it comes to public health issues
“Women don’t get AIDS; they just die from it.” – Dazon Dixon DialloTweet
Our Lives Matter
Gina Clayton – The Essie Justice Group
The Essie Justice Group is comprised up of of women with incarcerated loved ones to take on the impact of mass incarceration. Named after her great-grandmother and started by Gina Clayton it wants to end the cycle of isolation that follows women, one in two Black women, who are dealing with a loved one that is incarcerated. Ms. Clayton believes that this group , once healed, is the best to advocated on the health and well beings of these families.
If you know a woman who is behind bars or has a loved one behind bars, you can nominate them to be apart of The Essie Group, https://essiejusticegroup.org/nominate/
What could be possible if women weren’t fighting each one of these circumstances alone? What if we found each other and stood up and built a real advocacy force?”Tweet
Depelsha Thomas McGruder – Moms of Black Boys (MOBB) United, Inc
I, like many others, were outraged, dismayed and disgusted over the shootings of Trayvon Martin, Stephon Clark, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Stephon Clark and other senseless killings of, sometimes unarmed, black men. However, Delpesha Thomas McGruder did something about it.
What started as a Facebook support group has turned into a movement of moms, whose number one goal is to protect their sons from the a society that perceives them as criminals before a word is said. This movement is 200, 000 + strong and I am proud to be a member.
Moms of Black Boys (MOBB) United, Inc is dedicated to positively influencing how Black boys and men are perceived and treated by law enforcement and in society. And with 981 people killed by police violence, the need for MOBB hasn’t diminished.
We still have so far to go with this issue. It’s something that we want to work on proactively, not reactively. I can’t stop. – Delpelsha Thomas McGruderTweet
Maggie Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors Walker – Founders of Black Lives Matter
There have been many activists and civil rights champions for the Black Community. Unfortunately, there will probably be more until America fulfills its promise of equality for all. But I don’t believe anyone’s captured the attention of today’s activism like the Black Lives Matter movements started by Maggie Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors Walker.
Again, Trayvon Martin comes into play. As it was the acquittal of George Zimmerman that forced these ladies into community activism. Today, the movement has grown to include any incidence where the evidence shows that our community is being targeted to decrease our numbers or to actively plan policies and actions based off of stereotypes.
“We demonstrate a collective commitment and a collective practice to changing not just how police and policing happens in this country, but certainly to changing the conditions that black communities are living and existing in, then we have a real shot for living in a world that is more just, more equitable — in a world where black lives actually do matter. – Maggie Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors WalkerTweet
Bless our Children
Levada Felder – Eager to Serve, Inc
Ms. Levada Felder, my cousin and mentor, was my first entrepreneur inspiration. What started off as a camp that my cousins, my sisters and I attended has evolved into a full suite of services for all people, especially women and children, in her area.
Fourteen years ago, she started the Eager To Serve, Inc.’s, Homeless Assistance Program from Homelessness to Healing. Since that time her Sunshine Residence has helped to improve the lives of approximately one thousand seven hundred forty-nine (1,749) heads of households (includes individuals and families) of which approximately seventy (72) have been able to secure decent and affordable housing.
She has been at the entrepreneurship game for over twenty-five years and what I love about her is that each and every business idea and she has 100s of them is about helping someone else.
Janine Porter, Georgia Hope, Inc.
If you believe every child deserves a home then you understand the mission of Georgia Hope. Since 1998, the non-profit founded by Janine Porter has helped children in Georgia find forever homes. Her words say it best,
Over the years so many people have asked me, “Why did I decide to foster and why so many children? I received comments like, “I couldn’t do that”, “What about your own children?”, “What about your quality of life?”
My response has always been the same. I shrug my shoulders and say “Why not? I have the means to provide for another child, why wouldn’t I? Every child needs a home and every child needs a family and positive experiences”.Reprinted from the Georgia Hope Inc. blog.
It wasn’t until I started handling the social media for Georgia Hope that I saw how carelessly and horribly we can treat our children. This makes the work that Georgia Hope does for her children so needed and rewarding when she is able to place a child in their forever home. Sometimes this home is with her. She is the foster parent of one child, the adoptive parent of two children, the guardian of one college student, the legal guardian of one adult child and birth parent of three children.
What she is is VERY SPECIAL!
DeShawn Robinson Chew – SHEOO Academy
Years ago when I started Customer 1st Marketing I looked for companies that I could send my information to. I happened across Deshawn by networking through our alma mater, Hampton University. And if you know alumni from HU, then you know shared experiences help you become friends for life.
I have seen the SHEOO Academy grow. It is not understated to say that with that growth and her mission that DeShawn has created woman entrepreneurs of today and the future. Of greater significance, she has given her girls the knowledge that with a little brain power, creativity, and independence they can create a life for themselves solely based off of their own resources. These girls are the future of this post and I applaud her.
“We should not only teach girls how to build the robot, we should teach them how to own and sell it too!” ~DeShawn Robinson-Chew, Founder of SheEO AcademyTweet
Thank You for Inspiring Me
Every woman on this list is an inspiration in her own right and to the watching world. They are a testament to the truth that African American women are courageous, skilled, confident, enterprising, and daring.
I do not want to downplay the women of other races. We are all incredible with our abilities to change our world for good so here is a list of articles I used to pull this post together:
- 10 Incredible Nonprofits and the Women Behind Them
- 10 Inspiring Nonprofits Created By Women, Run By Women And Helping Women
- 10 Black-Owned Non-Profits Making A Difference
- National Association of Black Women in Law Enforcement
There are so many shining stars and inspirations to every American in whatever field of endeavor so thank you to all the women who did not make this list. Through your efforts, I am reminded every day to pursue personal and business success while giving back to others in any way I can.