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The Victory Blueprint: Celebrate International Women’s Day with Business Strategies from Successful Black Businesswomen

Mar 08, 2022 10:00AM ● By Nana Ama Addo

( Madam CJ Walker. Image by Bluesy Daye via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/49678978183. Oprah. Image by INTX: The Internet and Television Expo via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2011_Oprah_at_The_Cable_Show_(29902986311)_(2).jpg. Rosalind Brewer. Image by Fortune Live Media via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/fortunelivemedia/8048704614/. Janice Bryant Howroyd. Image via JbryantHowroyd via Instagram. Rihanna. Image by Sigma via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rihanna_Fenty_2018.png )

On March 8th, International Women’s Day is celebrated. This year’s theme, #BreaktheBias, focuses on the gender wage gap. To commemorate this fight for equality, and Women’s History Month (celebrated in March), we are exploring strategies from 5 successful Black women on how to shatter the glass ceiling in business. Let’s jump right in!


The wage gap is a persistent issue. In 2020, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Black women made a weekly average of $802, with Hispanic women making $733, Asian women making $1165, and White women making $939. That same year, Black men made a weekly average of $807, Hispanic men made $845, Asian men made $1499, and White men made $1129. The workforce is rapidly changing, and with pandemic and technology-related shifts, new possibilities of opportunity and financial success are opening up for all, including women of the African diaspora. The women highlighted in this article exemplify tools that can be utilized to create important blueprints for financial victory. 


( Image by Bluesy Daye via Flickr )

Madam CJ Walker, one of America’s first Black billionaires, was born in 1867 to formerly enslaved parents in Louisiana. Her haircare products, initially concocted to solve scalp problems, provided haircare solutions and advice to customers through her statewide representatives.

Walker’s company, the Madam CJ Walker Company, achieved success by filling pertinent needs, creating unique business-consumer relationships, curating employment-generating business systems, and developing mutually beneficial relationships for her employees. The Madam CJ Walker business was able to extend employment opportunities to more than 3,000 people. Walker also gave back by investing in funding scholarships for the underserved.


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Oprah Winfrey, born in poverty in Mississippi, is among the richest Black women in the world. At 19, Winfrey began her television career with CBS. Being a news anchor did not allow Oprah to access the niche she sought to develop, so she scouted other opportunities, which led her to the People are Talking talk show. Then, she joined the show AM Chicago. Her segment radically transformed the show’s ratings, and the segment later became The Oprah Winfrey Show.

In the wake of her success, Winfrey founded Angel Network, Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), Oxygen Media, Oprah Magazine, Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations, Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Academy for Girls, and more. Knowing how and when to pivot, investing in her personal brand, and reinvesting profits are some of the strategies that have helped Oprah achieve the success that defies the constricts of the wage gap.


Rosalind Brewer, the CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, is a retail industry pro. Her impact has been felt by companies like Starbucks, Sam’s Club, Walmart, and more. The Spelman graduate, who began her career as a chemist, was the first woman and the first Black woman to manage a major section of Walmart.

During her time as the Sam’s Club CEO from 2012 to 2017, Brewer helped to develop the retail store’s e-commerce capacity, which undoubtedly came in handy during the pandemic. She utilizes her background in chemistry and math to translate qualitative and quantitative analytics into business solutions.

Growing up with numerous siblings and limited resources in the home taught Brewer how to be tenacious in surviving. Some of the skills that have predicated Brewer’s success include hard work, her ability to predict future business trends and consumer needs, and her knack for innovating business models.


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Janice Bryant Howroyd learned profitable business skills at an early age. Her company ACT-1 Group, a consulting and employment agency, is a billion-dollar business that developed through Howroyd’s tenacity, strategic business acumen, fax machine, and a good network.

Howroyd, who told LA Times that the company mantra is ‘The applicant is at the center of our universe’, teaches the power of developing a strong, consumer focused-brand, strategizing and a positive network. Howroyd noted that growing up she had mentors who coached her to develop foundational skills like discipline, self presentation, resourcefulness, and branding.



Rihanna, the Barbados-born billionaire, was born to a Guyanese mother and Bajan father. The “Work” singer became a billionaire by building and leveraging a personal brand, diversifying her income streams, developing beneficial partnerships, incorporating inclusivity as a niche, and creating community around her brand. Her beauty brand Fenty Beauty and lingerie brand Savage X Fenty created merchandise for diverse demographics, and her marketing incorporated women who are not traditionally celebrated, including models of voluptuous sizes, disabled models, models of seasoned ages, and more.

The singer-turned-entrepreneur curates community around the Fenty brand with the Fenty X Savage fashion show, which features a variety of artists from different realms of entertainment, the Fenty Beauty media pages, which feature beauty influencers who celebrate the brand, and by incorporating Savage X Fenty ambassadors, who feature the brand on their social media channels.

Which businesswoman would you like to celebrate? What advice do you have for female entrepreneurs or businesswomen?


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Works Cited

https://www.gobankingrates.com/money/wealth/richest-black-women-in-world-2021/

https://blackeoejournal.com/2018/02/janice-bryant-howroyd-first-woman-run-1-billion-business/

https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Theme

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/05/25/gender-pay-gap-facts/

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/wkyeng.pdf

https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-58084543

https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-himi-howroyd-20180211-htmlstory.html

https://icon.ink/articles/janice-bryant-howroyd-built-act-1-group/

https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/madame-c-j-walker

https://talkbusiness.net/2017/01/brewers-exit-as-ceo-of-sams-club-surprised-few-likely-to-have-many-career-options/

https://fortune.com/2017/01/06/sams-club-ceo-costco/

https://www.walgreensbootsalliance.com/about-us/leadership/rosalind-brewer

https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/rosalind-brewer-find-your-voice-dont-be-silent

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/26/starbucks-coo-roz-brewer-leaving-to-become-ceo-of-publicly-traded-company.html

https://www.forbes.com/pictures/61ae2ec4cff11e5bb2f4b16b/oprah-winfrey-media-mogul/?sh=586d8e358803






 Nana Ama Addo is a writer, multimedia strategist, film director, and storytelling artist. She graduated with a BA in Africana Studies from the College of Wooster, and has studied at the University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Nana Ama tells stories of entrepreneurship and Ghana repatriation at her brand, Asiedua’s Imprint www.asieduasimprint.com ).










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