How to Make Your Business Great Again: How Black Entrepreneurs Are Getting It Right

By HILARY M. SHEA | March 20, 2018 | 10:16 a.m.HACKETT, Miss.

— A year after she became the first African American woman to lead a Fortune 500 company, the CEO of the National Venture Capital Association’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy has been named the country’s top female entrepreneur by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber’s 2017 Black Business List, released Thursday, was dominated by black entrepreneurs who raised over $8.2 billion in venture capital, including former Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who was the top seed investor at a time when the U,S.

was on pace to record its first African-American CEO. 

Including the top 10 African-Americans in venture-capital funds, the top 20 black female venture capitalists raised $4.8 billion, according to the Chamber.

The Black Entrepreneur Institute’s Young Leaders Program, which offers mentoring, career development and networking opportunities to young entrepreneurs, has seen the number of black women named to its board grow from 11 in 2016 to 12 this year.

Amy Myers, a co-founder of the Institute, said the awards are an important step forward in building a more diverse, inclusive and inclusive America.

“Today’s recognition will help young African- Americans build a legacy for themselves and their families by providing them with access to top-tier leadership, mentoring and networking resources, and a path to success,” Myers said.

The chamber announced its top female founders for the third consecutive year, and the chamber also named the top African- American female entrepreneur to its 100 Under 100 list for 2018. 

Mackenzie Johnson, CEO of Dabu, an online video sharing platform for black entrepreneurs and artists, was named the youngest CEO in history by the Chamber, beating out other African-Americas, including Oprah Winfrey and Sheryl Sandberg, in an age group that includes 20-year-old Kayla McLean, whose startup has been valued at more than $2 billion.

Johnson, the daughter of two-time presidential candidate Oprah Winfords mother, was born in Washington, D.C., to American parents.

In an interview with the Chamber earlier this year, Johnson said her family is African-descended and she wanted to do something positive for African-americans and African-America.

After graduating from college, Johnson, who lives in Memphis, Tennessee, joined the company she started at the age of 15, a software development company called Mogo.

Her goal was to create a better web platform for African American communities, she said.

Johnson, who is the first female CEO of a Fortune 50 company, will become the first black woman to be named CEO of an African-owned company.

She will be joined by the CEO and founder of a tech company, Dabue, and co-founders of the Black Entrepreneurers Institute, Sheryl and Amy Myers, the chamber said in a news release.

While the Black Business League’s list of 100 Under100 black women is dominated by African-Caucasian CEOs, there are also a number of female executives in Silicon Valley who have won the top job, including Sheryl Sanders, founder of eBay and cofounder of Uber.

The chamber’s list also includes a few African-Latinos, including the founders of Paypal, which was founded by immigrants and is valued at $13 billion. 

A number of African-Latino entrepreneurs have been named to the top leadership positions at technology companies, including Michelle Nguyen, who founded her first technology startup at age 14, and former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who served as the company’s chief executive officer for 13 years before becoming president.

The top women’s entrepreneurs, who will be announced on March 28, include Amy Myers of the Chamber’s Young Pioneers Program, Sherry Coughlin, founder and CEO of First American Financial, Sherrie Pritchett of the Young Entrepreneur Alliance, and Karen Daboule of the HypeCorp Venture Fund.

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