Friday, February 24, 2012

Think Big Celebrates Black History Month: Top 5 Black Entrepreneurs in History

What better time to acknowledge famous black entrepreneurs than during Black History Month?  As a tribute to this month-long "holiday", we'd like to take a closer look at some of the most famous African American entrepreneurs of our time and how they made it big:

Chris Gardner
1.  Chris Gardner: As the keynote speaker of our first Think Big Kansas City conference, we look up to Chris Gardner because of his persistence, drive and entrepreneurial heart.  Chris Gardner was the inspiration for the movie The Pursuit of Happyness and dug himself out of the trenches of homelessness in the 1980s.  Although Gardner faced many challenges while in poverty, he rose above them all to become one of the most admired entrepreneurs, investors, motivational speakers and philanthropists today.

Oprah Winfrey
2.  Oprah Winfrey:  Oprah isn't just successful...she's also beyond powerful.  Much like Gardner, Oprah had to rise above a rough upbringing before hitting it big with Harpo Studios and The Oprah Winfrey Show.  Oprah is one busy lady: from talk shows, to interviews, to magazines, to TV networks; this entrepreneur has her plate full.  Oprah has become so influential in people's lives, in fact, that the term "The Oprah Effect" has come to fruition, which refers to her opinions and endorsement to influence public opinion.
George Foreman

3.  George Foreman: From the boxing ring to the kitchen, this entrepreneur knows how to battle the competition.  Foreman earned his claim to fame in the professional heavy weight boxing ring, but also from the creation of The George Foreman Grill (also known as the Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine).  This appliance alone has earned George Foreman over $200 million dollars.  Now that's successful entrepreneurship!

Russell Simmons
4.  Russell Simmons:  Phat Farm, Baby Phat, Run Athletics, The Nutty Professor, Def Jams Records.  They all belong to hip hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons.  With so many successful ventures under his belt, Simmons has been identified as an American business magnate.

Magic Johnson
5. Magic Johnson:  Not many basketball players make more money off the court than they do on it.  But Magic Johnson is an exception to this trend.  Magic Johnson is the CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, a company that has a portfolio with franchises such as AMC/Magic Johnson Movie Theaters, Burger King, Starbucks, TGI Fridays, 24 Hour Fitness and Washington Mutual Home Loan Centers.

What black entrepreneurs do you look up to during Black History Month?  Comment below to let us know and happy Black History Month from all of us at Think Big Partners!

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