2021 International Women’s Day

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One of the first women to become a self-made millionaire

Madam C.J. Walker (Sarah Breedlove)

Madam C. J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, is one of the first women in the world to earn more than $1 million through the business she founded in 1910, the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company. Not only did Walker overcome sexist ideas when she built her business, she also battled racial discrimination and played a key role in the movement to end racism, colonialism, and imperialism, setting an example for the many women of today who are fighting the same battles.

Walker is one in a long line of women who thrived in business: from the ambitious women traders of pre-colonial Southeast Asia and Africa, and the pioneering women merchants of 18th-century London, to icons like Helena Rubinstein and Margaret Rudkin (founder of Pepperidge Farm), whose startups have grown into global enterprises today.

These women paved the way for a steadily increasing number of women business owners around the world.

According to recent data, one in three businesses around the world is owned by a woman,3 and in the U.S., 21% of all women-owned businesses are owned by Black women.4 Read full article

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