Updated: Mar 13
Women are more visible than ever, and Women's History Month continues that momentum. This is an occasion to celebrate and reflect on how far we've come and where we're going next. There is no doubt that this month is a huge opportunity for us to celebrate all of the incredible women who are changing the world through entrepreneurship.
The impact women can make as leaders is immense. Women in leadership roles make better decisions and promote gender equality, and research shows they're more likely to invest in their communities and employees than men in leadership roles. They're also more likely to be compassionate, collaborative, and fair-minded—all qualities that lead to stronger companies and organizations that care more about people than profits alone.
We honor these 6 Black women entrepreneurs making their mark in history. They have blazed trails with courage, determination, vision, and resilience against all odds—women who are role models for us all.
1. Angela Benton
Angela Benton is a multi-hyphenate entrepreneur: Business Woman-Author-Producer-Cancer Survivor-Mother. A pioneer in the tech industry, she created three web-based startups: Cued, BlackWeb 2.0, and NewMe Accelerator (acquired), an "incubator" for minority-owned tech startups. Through her leadership, NewME has accelerated hundreds of entrepreneurs helping the budding companies to raise over $47 million in venture capital funding.
She has been honored by Goldman Sachs' 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs, in addition to Fast Company's Most Influential Women In Technology, Business Insiders' 25 Most Influential African-Americans in Technology, Marie Claire's 50 Women Who Rule, and been featured in numerous national and international media outlets.
She wrote about her business success in her book Revival: How I Rebuilt a Life for Longevity After Cancer, Burnout, and Heartbreak.
Angela said, "My biggest advice would be to find something that works for you and be persistent. A lot of people get caught up in what you major in and what school you go to just so you can "get a good job" and make a lot of money. I encourage women to find something they like and are passionate about and see where it takes you...the dots will end up connecting themselves in the end."
2. Tracy Reese
Fashion designer Tracy Reese took her dreams of owning her own company and made them a reality. The TRACY REESE design philosophy is rooted in a commitment to bringing out the beauty in women of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Her first attempt at entrepreneurship did not go well, and Tracy closed her company due to a lack of revenue. She did a relaunch in 1996 that catapulted her career.
Reese's designs have been featured in the top fashion publications, including Vogue, Elle, Glamour, InStyle, O, the Oprah Magazine, Essence, and WWD. Her distinguishable perspective has also made her a celebrity favorite. Notable fans of the brand include First Lady Michelle Obama, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Taylor Swift.
After 20 years, Tracy switched her business model. She realized the negative impact of the relationship between fashion and cheap production. She told Vogue, "If you're selling a garment for $10, let's just do the math and understand what that means for all the people along that supply chain. It's like slavery. I knew I didn't want anything to do with that, so it made me get really serious about what I did want." Tracy now focuses on creating sustainable fashion.
3. Kimberly Dillon
Kimberly was the Founder of House of Mikko, a website that helped women choose their makeup and hair products based on their features. Now she is the VP of Marketing at Papa & Barkley, a company that manufactures premium cannabis wellness products intending to unlock the plant's potential to improve people's lives. She's been a business mentor for Startup Weekend and Women 2.0. Kimberly has helped raise millions of dollars for global startups and developed growth strategies for YouTube influencers Smosh, Scooter Braun's Bkstg, and SIRI spinout Desti.
4. Birame Sock
Shining a path in the tech industry, serial entrepreneur Birame Sock is the CEO and founder of Third Solutions, the marketing company behind MyReceipts.com, letting users keep track of their receipts online. She is the Founder of FlyScan, Inc, an Interactive Digital Marketing platform generating real-time offers based on users' social network status, location, and brand preferences.
As a result of her successes as an entrepreneur and strong technology background focusing on digital technologies and consumer applications, Birame has appeared on CNBC and Good Morning America.
5. Bershan Shaw
Bershan wasn't born a warrior, but she embraced her destiny as one. After being diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, she became a warrior in her mind to beat the ugly disease. Years of cancer treatment birthed her multimillion-dollar business, Warrior Training International. Bershan coaches CEOs, leaders, executive teams, and management teams on diversity & inclusion training emotional intelligence training while also helping them change their mindsets. She's shared the stage with big names like Tony Robbins, Les Brown, and Pitbull, to name a few.
She's also the creator of URAWarrior, a social networking mental health community that supports individuals through tough times when experiencing depression, anxiety, stress, loneliness, and more.
Bershan said, "Dream so big that it scares you, that it makes you grow, that it makes you say, 'Can I really do this?' and in the end, you can say yes you can because you were put on this earth to be great. Everything is possible."
6. Brittney McKinnon
Brittney is a serial startup entrepreneur, who has made her imprint in the online and digital marketing space by helping established entrepreneurs and brands with revolutionizing branding techniques. As the CEO of B. Carter Solutions, an innovative brand and marketing agency lies in the intersection between creativity, community, and culture. As Maryland's Most Admired CEO & Huffington Post's Top 30 Under 30, she lives by the motto: "work smarter, not harder," as she constantly focuses on creative ways to build and sustain memorable brands.
Brittney said, "Becoming a leader is a daily practice," she said. "I fail more than I succeed, but I'm much closer now than I was two years ago."
These 6 black women on this list are just a few of the many who continue to make their mark. You can think of the progress in the business world as a sort of trickle-up effect. Once a few women at the top begin to make their marks within the business world, they pave the way for others to follow in their footsteps.