Top 10 Black female business owners to watch in 2023

To celebrate Black History Month, we’re sharing the US’s top 10 Black female CEOs who are doing their bit to make the world a better place

Black female founders in the US have been said to be over-mentored and underfunded, according to research from DropBox DocSend. In fact, Black women represent just 12.9% of the female population in startups.

Although much needs to be done to reach equity and bridge this gap, we want to celebrate some women who have become CEOs, while simultaneously striving to make positive changes in the world around them. 

10: Angel Rich

Angel Rich’s career started in 2009 when she became a Global Market Research Analyst for Prudential Financial. Through this role, where she helped the company’s Annuities division grow from #16 in Service to #4. 

Soon after leaving, Angel founded The Wealth Factory, as part of her mission to provide equal access to financial literacy across the world. The WealthyLife company designs education technology games for financial literacy, including CreditStacker, which has won international recognition. Angel is also CEO of CreditRich.

09: Leila Velez

After securing her first job at McDonald’s at just 14 years old, Leila Velez soon went on to become the fast food chain's youngest-ever manager, at 16. Three years later, she opened her first business: Beleza Natural, which grew to become Brazil's largest beauty institute chain specialising in curly hair treatments. 

Now, Leila is the Founder of Curl Lab, a startup that offers a personalised curly hair product line created by scientists, dermatologists, nutritionists, and curly hair experts. 

08: Feyi Ayodele

As the CEO and founder of CancerIQ, Feyi Ayodele helps health professionals use genetic information to predict, pre-empt, and prevent disease – starting with cancer. During her startup journey, Feyi has raised over US$8mm in venture capital and how won several awards for her work, including the Chicago Booth New Venture Challenge and the Chicago Innovation Award. Feyi is also a frequent speaker at Association of Community Cancer Centers, the National Society of Genetic Counselors, and Chicago Inno, to name a few.

07: Ama Marfo

Ama Marfo is co-founder and CEO of Airfordable alongside Emmanuel Buah

The firm's goal is to make air travel more accessible by allowing users to book flights for a small fraction of the usual upfront price, and pay the rest later in a way that suits them. 

As a college student in the US, Ama herself faced paying in excess of US$2,000 to fly home to Ghana and visit her family, thus inspiring her business venture.

06: Johnetta MacCalla

Johnetta MacCalla is co-founder and CEO of Zyrobotics, a developer of inclusive, educational technologies for children in early education. 

With a focus on interactive STEM games and learning tools, the firm's coding app caters for children of all ages and abilities. 

Dr Johnetta is a serial entrepreneur with 35 years' experience in managing tech companies, as well as the project management of high-tech projects with the Port of Los Angeles, NASA and the US Military.

05: Bea Arthur

Trained psychotherapist and award-winning entrepreneur Bea Arthur is the Founder and CEO of The Difference, a customer service line connecting users with live, licensed therapists in 30 minutes or less. 

Bea specialises in counselling, coaching and psycho-education, and was the first African-American female founder in Y Combinator, and has been recognised as one of Bumble’s 100 Most Inspirational New Yorkers. In addition, Bea is also an editorial contributor and host for ForbesWomen.

04: Maya Hardigan

Black women in the US are 49% more likely to give birth prematurely and an estimated 60% of Black maternal deaths are avoidable.

It's statistics like these which have inspired the work of Maya Hardigan, founder and CEO of Mae, a digital platform aimed at driving positive pregnancy outcomes among Black women. 

Harnessing her significant experience at Pfizer, Maya is committed to addressing the disparities in maternal health outcomes seen across the country.

03: Arian Simone

Arian Simone is a co-founder and CEO of Atlanta-based Fearless Fund, which bills itself as a venture 'built by women of colour for women of colour'.

According to a 2021 study carried out by Deloitte and NVCA, just 3% of venture capital investors were Black, while Black founders received a tiny fraction of VC funding in Q3 last year. 

Fearless Fund's mission is to bridge the gap in VC funding for women of colour founders, with a view to building scalable, growth-aggressive companies.

02: Lisa Dyson

A serial entrepreneur and problem solver, Lisa Dyson's influence in the field of sustainability apparently knows no bounds. 

Earlier in her career, while a Management Consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, Lisa worked with top executives to help Fortune companies develop high-impact strategies and execution plans.

Around a decade ago she co-founded Kiverdi, a company using NASA-inspired technologies to convert CO2 into eco-friendly, bio-based products. 

More recently she founded its subsidiary, Air Protein, which harnesses technology used by NASA scientists in the 1970s to feed astronauts by transforming carbon dioxide into protein.

01: Morgan DeBaun

Morgan DeBaun is the founder, Chairman and CEO of Blavity, a successful media company which continues to grow in reach, popularity and size. 

Having been launched in 2014, the firm now looks after seven brands aimed at informing, entertaining and engaging communities of colour.

Its business division, AfroTech, also provides a professional network and talent acquisition solution for some of the world's largest companies, thus "economically and creatively supporting Black millennials".


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