2014 Will be Breakout Year for Female Entrepreneurs
For a little January inspiration, let’s take a look at Forbes’ Most Powerful Female Entrepreneurs List released last year. Although I’m a bit disappointed that not a single African woman made the list, I’m still happy that women worldwide are shaking things up in this male dominated world. According to Forbes, 2014 will be a breakout year for women entrepreneurs (and they list 11 reasons why). The number of $10-million-plus women-owned firms increased by 57% — a growth rate nearly 50% more than $10-million-plus firms overall.
On the list was Sara Blakely, (pictured above), the founder of SPANX. At 29 Blakely invested her entire life savings, $5,000, trying to come up with something flattering to wear under her white slacks. Six months later the one-time Disney World ride greeter and door-to-door fax machine salesperson found her new line of shaping underwear named one of Oprah Winfrey’s Favorite Things. Since then Blakely has taken Spanx from a one-product wonder sold out of her Atlanta apartment to a powerhouse with $250 million in annual revenues and net profit margins estimated at 20%.
India’s first biotech entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw founded Biocon in 1978 when she was 25 by partnering with an Irish firm to make industrial enzymes. In 1978 she started Biocon in the garage of her rented house in Bangalore with a seed capital of Rs. 10,000. Initially, she faced credibility challenges because of her youth, gender and her untested business model. Not only was funding a problem as no bank wanted to lend to her, but she also found it difficult to recruit people for her start-up. With single-minded determination she overcame these challenges only to be confronted with the technological challenges associated with trying to build a biotech business in a country facing infrastructural woes. Uninterrupted power, superior quality water, sterile labs, imported research equipment, and advanced scientific skills were not easily available in India during the time. She is responsible for steering Biocon on a trajectory of growth and innovation over the years. Within a year of its inception, Biocon became the first Indian company to manufacture and export enzymes to USA and Europe. In 2007–08, a leading US trade publication, Med Ad News, ranked Biocon as the 20th leading biotechnology companies in the world and the 7th largest biotech employer in the world. Biocon also received the 2009 BioSingapore Asia Pacific Biotechnology Award for Best Listed Company. Today, thanks to her leadership, Biocon is building cutting-edge capabilities, global credibility and global scale in its manufacturing and marketing activities. It has Asia’s largest insulin and statin facilities also the largest perfusion-based antibody production facilities.
Cher Wang and CEO Peter Chou cofounded HTC in 1997, and have remained as its leaders as it developed from a manufacturer for other smartphone companies to a leading Android brand. As co-founder and chairperson (since 2007) of HTC Corporation—which manufactured one out of every six smartphones sold in the United States—and integrated chipset maker VIA Technologies, she has been called the pride of Taiwan and is considered one of the most powerful and successful women in technology. In August 2012, Wang was named #56 on Forbes’ list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.
Beyonce Knowles created the fashion label House of Dereon with her mother, Tina Knowles, in 2004. In May of 2012 Beyonce added another credit to her entrepreneurial CV when she launched shop.beyonce.com, a branded apparel and accessory marketplace.
To see the complete list click here.