Women who started from zero are now the greatest entrepreneurs in the world


From the early years, women have demonstrated the capability to do something on their own, starting from scratch. This was more challenging back then, as women faced various prejudices, leaving them without rights and support.

Elizabeth Arden, in a time when it was very rare for women to wear makeup, let alone run a business, the Canadian Arden opened the first spa on Fifth Avenue in New York in 1910. She employed chemists to create skincare products. By 1922, her company became globally recognized, and in 1946, she was the first woman featured on the cover of “Time” magazine, a feat previously unheard of. By the end of her life, Elizabeth Arden had over 100 salons worldwide.

Carrie Crawford Smith was an African American woman who opened an employment agency to help a large number of migrants finding jobs as they moved from the South to the North. Her business also helped white individuals, but it was primarily focused on people of color. Smith’s agency was more than just a business; she saw it as an opportunity to promote racial progress and dignity.

In 2006, with a personal wealth of $3.4 billion, Cheung Yan was ranked as the wealthiest self-made woman in the world. She founded her paper recycling company in 1985 in Hong Kong. After spending some time in the USA collecting used paper, she returned to China and started “Nine Dragons Paper,” which she chairs along with her husband. This company is now considered the largest paper recycling enterprise globally, employing over 18,000 full-time staff.

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu started her business after witnessing the struggles of her friends and neighbors in Zenabwork, a village in Ethiopia. She then decided to leverage their artisanal skills to create a brand of shoes based on a traditional method of recycling tires. Her company, “SoleRebels,” now produces sandals, flip-flops, shoes, and boots, all made from local materials like plant fibers, recycled rubber, or organic cotton. This company has become the most well-known African shoe company, selling in 30 different countries around the world.

Oprah Winfrey has established herself as a media executive, actress, and billionaire philanthropist. She is best known as the host of her immensely popular program, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which aired for 25 seasons, from 1986 to 2011. In 2011, Winfrey launched her own television network, the “Oprah Winfrey Network.”

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