Women of color are one of the fastest growing demographics of entrepreneurs in the U.S. today.
That isn't to imply that stories of female entrepreneurs are all smooth sailing. If the business world is an uphill battle, then successful minority women are world-class rock climbers.
Below are three inspirational stories about women of color to encourage you to keep your resolve as you reach for that next handhold.
Janice Bryant Howroyd - ACT 1 Group, Inc
Janice Bryant Howroyd is the first African American woman to run a billion-dollar company. That company? ACT 1 Group, Inc a workforce and consultancy agency that she both founded and still heads as CEO.
At 65, Howroyd grew up in the midst of the civil rights movement. One of 11 children, she learned early the importance of organization, mentorship, and working as a team.
Act 1 Group, Inc began as a small, full-time staffing agency in Beverly Hills, California in 1978. Howroyd started with one desk, one phone, and $900 borrowed from her mother.
Janice Bryant Howroyd is now worth an estimated $420 million. Successful black women have found inspiration in her story for decades. When asked about her business protocol, she says, "Never compromise who you are personally to become what you wish to be professionally."
Jessica O. Matthews - Uncharted Power
Daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Jessica O. Matthews, is changing the way the tech industry views women and young black entrepreneurs.
It all started in February 2013 when she launched the Soccket through Kickstarter. The idea: a soccer ball that generates electricity for an attachable LED reading lamp. For an hour of soccer play, you get 3 hours of light. The campaign was funded within a month, and Uncharted Power was born.
Uncharted Power's initial plans to produce the product as well as the technology didn't go well. The Soccket production quality failed in the field, with some balls breaking within just three days of use.
These events prompted Matthews to make a major change to her business model. She reassessed her company's ability to create the best soccer ball, or the best jump rope, or the best stroller. Instead of producing the product in-house, her company now partners with manufacturers to install Uncharted Power's renewable kinetic energy technology into existing products.
The move has paid off big time. Uncharted Power raised $7 million in 2016 for their Series A round, the highest amount of venture capital a woman of color has ever raised.
Arlan Hamilton - Backstage Capital
Backstage Capital's homepage reads, "Less than 10 percent of all venture capital deals go to women, People of Color, and LGBT founders." Arlan Hamilton has taken this inequality by the horns and turned it into a multi-million dollar business.
The venture capital industry is overwhelmingly white, straight, and male. It's a demographic that's not known for stepping outside of its perspective. As a result, a lot of minority entrepreneurs face an uphill battle trying to get funding for their unique ideas. Hamilton has sought to change that. And she's succeeded.
Started in 2015, Backstage Capital now boasts an investment portfolio of 100 companies, all of them headed by minority founders.
Hamilton herself meets a lot of intersecting identities. She's a woman of color and a lesbian. For her, giving underrepresented entrepreneurs a chance at success is personal.
Be Inspired by These Female Growth Stories
Women of color are revolutionizing the world of entrepreneurship.
Let these three amazing female growth stories fuel your journey towards business success.
Want to read more about diversity? Here are 7 companies that encourage diversity in the tech industry.