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Inspiring women entrepreneurs

The “glass ceiling” is still an unfortunate reality–minorities don’t get the same opportunities to take managerial and executive positions. In 2021, the number of female executives in Fortune 500 companies was just 41, compared to 459 men. 

Despite all the discrimination, sexism, and microaggressions they’re faced with in the corporate world, the intelligence and resolve of women entrepreneurs helps them rise to success. Here is a list of 7 accomplished female entrepreneurs that can inspire you in your own journey:

 

Dr. Jen Esquer

“Consistency is key for everything. Good things happen because you keep up and chip away at them every day. If you find something working for you, and it’s what you want to do, keep at it. Something good will come of it.”

Jen Esquer-Fraboni, or as she’s more widely known, DocJenFit, is a top-40 fitness and physical therapy influencer. 

While studying Kinesiology at university, Jen started an Instagram account to document her own journey, but quickly rose to popularity (as of writing this article, she has over 690K followers on her Instagram page). Since then, she has founded her own website, app, two fitness programs, and a podcast. She continues to help people all around the world increase their mobility and get a better hold of their bodies with her accessible content.   

Key accomplishments: 

  • Founder of two successful fitness programs: The Mobility Method and The Optimal Body
  • Creator of Jen Health, a physical health and wellness platform
  • Co-host of The Optimal Body Podcast 
  • Holds a BS degree in Kinesiology, and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy
  • Ranked as one of the best fitness influencers on Instagram by Shape Magazine
  • Part of Women Health Magazine’s Advisory Board
  • Holds FRCms (Functional Range Conditioning Mobility Specialist) and several other certifications about physical therapy and mobility training  

 

Dr. Joy Adowaa Buolamwini 

“Black communities are grappling with police violence and racial discrimination. As AI technology continues to evolve, tech companies have a responsibility to ensure that their products are used to strengthen communities, not deepen racial inequities.”

Joy Adowaa Buolamwini is an activist and self-described “poet of code” that aims to eradicate inequality in the artificial intelligence industry. Her nonprofit, AJL (Algorithmic Justice League), is promoting inclusion by helping diversify facial recognition softwares and opposing racial inequality and bias

Joy graduated with the highest honors from her BS in computer science at Georgia Tech, and then went on to complete two master’s degrees at MIT and Oxford University. After starting her campaign against bias in AI, she has been featured in several lists as one of the most successful women entrepreneurs of our age. She has also been invited to talk about her findings about the importance of inclusion at the World Economic forum and United Nations. 

She is currently continuing her efforts of fighting algorithmic bias, and trying to get major companies to get ahead of their systems’ facial recognition bias.

Key accomplishments: 

  • Founder of the AJL, a nonprofit organization that aims to combat bias in decision-making software
  • Rhodes, Fulbright, and Stamps Scholar 
  • Featured on the documentary entitled “Coded Bias” 
  • Part of BBC’s “100 Women” list (2018)
  • Part of Time’s “100 Next” list  
  • The youngest member on Forbes’ “Top 50 Women in Tech” list 
  • Held several exhibitions (in Austria, US, and UK) about the use of AI and data 
  • Delivered a talk on TEDx and attended an episode of TED Radio Hour

Net worth: Estimated at between $1 million – $5 million

 

Arianna Huffington 

There’s nothing that kills creativity faster than burnout. We are undermining ourselves and our own effectiveness by buying into the myth, the collective delusion, that burnout is the way to succeed. It’s not. Everyone who has succeeded has done so despite burning out.”

Arianna Huffington is a Greek-American business woman, entrepreneur, author, and columnist. With the big success she garnered throughout her career, her strong views, and her uncompromising stance, she is certainly one of the most well-known women entrepreneurs of our age. 

While studying economics in the UK, Arianna began her career in writing in the 1970s. Since then, she has written many books throughout her life. She found great success when she started the Huffington Post in 2005 at 55 years old. The site grew with different topics and a variety of authors, eventually becoming one of the biggest media outlets. After officially stepping down from her CEO position in 2016, Arianna started focusing on Thrive, another successful company she built within the wellness industry.  

Key accomplishments: 

  • Founder and former-CEO of The Huffington Post, one of the largest digital news and entertainment media corporations in the US 
  • Founder & CEO at Thrive, a health and wellness technology company 
  • Author of 15 books (multiple of them being New York Times bestsellers)
  • On the board of directors for 4 other organizations, including Uber and the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) 
  • Became the first commercial US media digital media site to win a Pulitzer Prize in 2012
  • Part of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” list 
  • Part of Forbes’ “50 Over 50” list (2021)  

Net worth: $100 million+ 

 

Hansni Thadhani 

“Ultimately, it is harder to succeed as a woman entrepreneur, but it’s getting easier. As we’re empowered, and companies see the potential of women at the helm, doors open for all of us.”

As an avid surfer and beach-goer, Hansni Thadhani wanted an easy way to wash off her kids in the backyard before going inside. This initial idea, along with her desire to continue the ‘beach feeling’ in her home, was the foundation for her company. With the originality of her idea, and her approach to entrepreneurship, her products gained a lot of attraction.    

Her company StrandBoards expanded greatly after starting, and now does other home decor options using authentic surfboards as well. Every piece is hand-crafted and fully customizable. Thadhani also takes pride in her company’s devotion to sustainability, donating part of her earnings to nonprofits that help preserve ocean health.   

Key accomplishments: 

  • Founder & CEO of StrandBoards
  • Featured in many lifestyle and business magazines, including the Los Angeles Magazine and Bloomberg Businessweek 
  • Featured in Entrepreneur.com as part of the “10 Women Entrepreneurs Who Are Shattering the Glass Ceiling” list 
  • Products used in several hotels and beaches throughout the US 

 

Trisha Prabhu 

“Rethink before the damage is done.” 

Trisha Prabhu is a 22-year-old activist and female entrepreneur. After witnessing the negative effects of cyberbullying and online harassment on teens, she has created her app ReThink, which adds an additional keyboard to your smartphone and is able to detect & stop hateful messages before they are posted. She has been garnering a lot of attention to the effects of online hate with her advocacy. 

Key accomplishments: 

  • Founder & CEO of ReThink
  • Author of “ReThink The Internet”, a kids’ book about cyberbullying  
  • Recent graduate of Harvard University, current Rhodes Scholar at Oxford  
  • On the Advisory Council for the Tyler Clementi Foundation, an organization built in the name of Clementi, who was a victim of online bullying  
  • Honored as a “Health Hero” by WebMD (2016) 
  • Featured in Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list in the category of Social Impact 
  • Featured on TED India and Shark Tank 
  • Partnerships with Scholastic and the US State Department for ReThink 

Net worth: $2 – 3 million 

 

Zhang Xin 

“No economy, no company, in fact no individual can develop its full potential today without embracing two fundamental trends – globalization and digitalization. They will dominate for quite some time to come.”

Zhang Xin is widely referred to as “the woman who built Beijing”, after having founded the largest commercial real estate business in Asia with her husband in 1995. 

After moving to the UK and completing her education in economics, she started SOHO China (then called “Hongshi”), and created unique buildings that stood out from the rest. Within 10 years of building the company, it was the largest in the country. Over time, she expanded her business even more with a unique business strategy and eventually became a billionaire. She recently quit her position as CEO to continue her efforts in philanthropy. 

Key accomplishments: 

  • Co-founder and former CEO of SOHO China 
  • Asia’s largest commercial real estate IPO 
  • Graduated from Sussex University with a degree in Economics 
  • Holds a master’s degree from Cambridge University 
  • One of the top/richest businesswomen in the world 
  • Named one of “The Most Admired Companies” by Fortune China for 6 years 
  • Established SOHO Foundation, a nonprofit with a $100 million initiative that provides scholarships for Chinese students who want to pursue higher education 

Net worth: $3.5 billion 

 

Janice Bryant Howroyd

“Never compromise who you are personally to become who you wish to be professionally.” 

Janice Bryant Howroyd is a black woman entrepreneur who founded one of the leading firms of employment and consulting in America. 

Howroyd started her company from a small office in 1978, after having moved to a new city with a loan of $900 from her mom. Her pleased customers quickly started promoting ActOne through word of mouth. This increased her popularity and eventually carried her agency to becoming a billion-dollar company. Her agency currently has more than 17,000 clients and employs over 2,000 people around the world

Key accomplishments: 

  • Founder & CEO of ActOne Group, the largest private company owned by a minority woman in the US 
  • The first African-American woman to found & own a billion-dollar company 
  • Author of two books: “The Art of Work”, and “Acting Up” 
  • Ambassador/board member of multiple charities and organizations, including Harvard Women’s Leadership Board, the US Department of Commerce, etc. 
  • Winner of the BET Honors Entrepreneur Award (2008)
  • Featured in Forbes’ “America’s Self-Made Women” list (2022) 
  • Awarded as an Honoree by the National Association of Women Business Owners 
  • Supports several universities, nonprofits, and organizations through her philanthropy 

Net worth: Howroyd is valued at $630 million, while ActOne is estimated to be at around $2.8 billion  

 

The future is promising

With talent, motivation, and discipline, every idea can be worth pursuing. Hopefully the stories of these 7 women entrepreneurs inspire you to keep going with your efforts to shatter the glass ceiling! 

To save yourself the hassle of financial and legal tasks in your entrepreneurship journey, register to Ruul now, and take your career under your own rule.

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Ceylin Güven
Ceylin Güven likes reading anything she can get her hands on, writing poetry that’s way too personal, and watching Studio Ghibli movies.
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