Hollywood and STEM is not the only industry that has posed serious challenges to women in terms of access to opportunities and platforms. But the fact that the following women have shattered the glass ceiling and emerged as the top businesspersons in the world today is a testament to the immense hard work, talent, and smarts of women as a whole.
These self-made women have started businesses that are not just very successful but are incredibly important for the functioning of the country. No joke, the US might just fall apart if some of these companies didn’t exist today. One can see that women are as dispensable to society as the contributions made by them to the business sector. Here, we take a look at the top 10 richest female entrepreneurs in the world as of 2021.
Diane Hendricks ($6.98 billion in net worth)
Amongst America’s leading wholesalers of roofing, siding, and windows, ABC Supply is overseen by Hendricks, a company that she founded alongside her late husband. Hendricks and her late husband Ken started the company in Wisconsin close to 4 decades ago, and the company has soared to new heights since then. Mr. Hendricks has since passed away, and she has been in charge of the business since 2007. Mrs. Hendricks is in charge of two of ABC’s most significant acquisitions: Bradco, a rival company, was purchased in 2010, and L&W Supply, a construction supplies wholesaler, was purchased in 2016. Over 700 sites and $9 billion in sales later, the firm still has a long way to go but Mrs. Hendricks sure has amassed incredible wealth.
Marian Ilitch ($6.12 billion in net worth)
Little Caesars Pizza was started in 1959 by Marian Ilitch and her husband. Mrs. I, as she’s often referred to, now controls a pizza business with annual sales exceeding $4 billion. Additionally, she is the primary owner of the MotorCity Casino Hotel and Detroit Red Wings Hotel in the city of Detroit, and currently, Michigan Ilitch is working with the city of Detroit to create a sports and entertainment unit to be built to the cost of $1.2 billion. Not to surprising, considering she could entirely fund the construction on her own if she wanted, and still remain second on the list of the richest female entrepreneurs.
Judy Faulkner ($4.98 billion in net worth)
A Wisconsin basement was the birthplace of Epic, America’s top medical-record software supplier, in 1979, thanks to Judy Faulkner. The company’s $2.7 billion CEO is still Faulkner, a computer programmer by profession. Health care providers including Johns Hopkins and Mayo Clinic rely on Epic to keep track of the medical information of nearly 230 million patients. All of the company’s software is developed in-house; the firm has never received any venture capital or acquired another business. In 2015, she joined the Giving Pledge, vowing that she will give away almost all of the wealth she accumulated during her life to various social causes.
Meg Whitman ($4.7 billion in net worth)
From 1998 until 2008, Meg Whitman served as CEO of eBay, growing sales from $5 million to $8 billion. She also served as the Hewlett-Packard CEO from 2011 until 2015, and HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise were formed under her leadership. In February 2018, she stepped down as HPE’s CEO. However, she is still on the company’s board of directors. Whitman took over as CEO of Jeffrey Katzenberg’s NewTV mobile media firm in March of this year. She is on the boards of tech companies Dropbox, and Procter & Gamble, and she has previously worked for Hasbro and Walt Disney. Talk about an impressive resume!
Johnelle Hunt ($4.56 million in net worth)
After selling their house in 1961, Johnelle and her late husband borrowed money to establish a rice hull packing business. A decade and a half later, the pair launched J.B. Hunt Transport Services with five trucks and seven trailers.
Since becoming public in 1983, the company has grown to be one of the nation’s largest transportation providers, with sales of $7.2 billion. Despite his departure as a corporate secretary in 2008, Hunt holds 17-percent ownership in the company and is still its largest individual stakeholder. An outdoor amphitheater, the Walton Arts Centre’s Arkansas Music Pavilion, was built with Hunt’s generous donation of 6 acres of property in 2014.
Oprah Winfrey ($4.4 billion in net worth)
Oprah Winfrey, a celebrity host, and commentator has grown from a successful talk show presenter to a multibillion-dollar media mogul. Winfrey turned her work as a news anchor into a successful chat show that lasted for 25 years. Her show’s revenues, when fully reinvested, come to over $2 billion. Winfrey announced her departure from the show in 2011 and subsequently announced the creation of her own cable channel, OWN. At 25.5% ownership, she rakes in about $75 million in revenue. Because of the “Oprah Effect,” Weight Watchers now has a brand ambassador in the form of the media mogul who owns an 8-percent share in the firm. Her on-screen career is also seeing a rebirth, thanks to a long-term agreement with Apple TV to develop original content.
Judy Love ($4.27 billion in net worth)
With a $5,000 loan that was essentially provided by Judy’s in-laws, Judy Love along with her husband, Tom, built her first gas station in Oklahoma almost 60 years ago. Judy managed the records and the business alongside Tom until 1975 when she went back to school to get her bachelor’s degree in accounting. Judy now serves as Love’s executive secretary and as chairperson of the Love and Family Fund Board of Directors. In 2017, revenues increased by 19% to $19 billion as a result of the opening of 36 additional sites. Three of the four children in Judy and Tom’s family work for the Love business. It wasn’t just a successful business, though. The couple is also celebrating a successful and happy marriage of many decades.
Theresa Doris Fisher ($4.01 billion in net worth)
GAP was created in 1969 by Doris Fisher and Don Fisher when they couldn’t locate pants that suited Don. The San Francisco-based duo raised $63k to establish their first clothing and music business. Before retiring in 2009, Doris Fisher worked as the company’s merchandiser and was a member of the GAP board of directors from the beginning. The KIPP Foundation, which promotes public charter schools, was also co-founded by the Stanford economics graduate.
Elaine Wynn ($3.7 billion in net worth)
Elaine Wynn, also known as the “Queen of Las Vegas,” took over as her company’s biggest shareholder in March of 2018, when Wynn Resorts went public. Steve Wynn, her ex-husband and the co-founder of Wynn Resorts, sold his shares and resigned as CEO after claims of sexual harassment, which he denies. Elaine spent her Sundays working at the bingo hall owned by Steve’s father in Maryland. Afterward, they relocated to the state of Las Vegas, where Elaine and Steve got married when Elaine was in her third year of college. In 1973, they founded Mirage Resorts, then in 2002, they joined forces with Steve Wynn’s label to form Wynn Resorts. Before stepping down in 2015, Elaine Wynn was on the board of directors for 13 years. Clearly, she’s Wynn-ing, it’s in her name!
Lynda Resnick ($3.42 billion in net worth)
The Wonderful Co., a $4.2-billion food and beverage empire owned by Resnick and her husband, is a product of her marketing genius. Mandarin Halos, Pom Wonderful, Fiji Water, and Wonderful Pistachios are just a few of the company’s brands. Aside from that, the pair owns orchards covering hundreds of acres in California, Texas, and Mexico, including almond, pistachio, orange, and pomegranate farms. Stewart was looking for advertising support for his growing cleaning company in 1960 when he met Lynda, and the couple went on to become billionaires.
Women are unquestionably carving up successful careers for themselves in business while also enjoying fulfilling lives. The 10 richest female entrepreneurs are testament to what hard work and perseverance can achieve.
One simply needs to look at Kylie Jenner, who was recently awarded Forbes’ youngest self-made billionaire of all time. While Zuckerberg had previously held the distinction of youngest self-made billionaire, Jenner dethroned him at 21 years of age by becoming the youngest self-made billionaire.
This year’s list includes 68 self-made women billionaires out of the world’s 2,153 total billionaires, with seven of them sharing their wealth with male family members or spouses. Self-made women’s net worth surpassed US$71 billion in 2018, an increase of 15% over 2017. So what do you think? Who is your favorite female entrepreneur and why? Do they feature on the list? Let us know in the comments down below!