The Business Trailblazers and Titans of Black America

The 40 most powerful African Americans in business-and how they shaped our world

Janice Bryant Howroyd

40. Eddie Brown
The Master of Mutual Funds
Brown, considered one of the world’s most renowned stock pickers, founded Brown Capital Management Inc. in 1983. Over the decades, he has grown his firm into one of the nation’s largest black asset managers and developed a series of mutual funds, giving a number of African Americans the opportunity to serve as portfolio managers.

39. Jesse Hill Jr.
The Insurance Impresario
As CEO of Atlanta Life from the 1970s to the early 1990s, Hill took the company to new heights by growing its assets and adding policyholders through mergers and acquisitions—even hostile takeovers. In addition to acquiring five insurers, he brought in more sophisticated insurance products and technology. The company capitalized on Hill’s strategy to become one of the few thriving black insurers.

38. Ernesta Procope
The First Lady of Wall Street
Procope is the founder and former CEO of E.G. Bowman Co. Inc., the first and largest minority-owned insurance brokerage firm in New York’s financial district. Her influence also extended throughout corporate America through board directorships with Avon Products and the Chubb Group. She is a recipient of the Black Enterprise Woman Of Power Legacy Award.

37. Comer Cottrell
The Trendsetter
With only $600, Cottrell launched Pro-Line Corp., which would become one of the nation’s largest black haircare manufacturers. He persuaded beauty and barber shops to use his products and increased sales through military bases overseas. In 1989, Cottrell bought an equity stake in the Texas Rangers and sought to increase minority involvement in Major League Baseball.

36. Janice Bryant Howroyd
The Job Czar
Launched in 1978 with a $1,500 family loan and a small office in Beverly Hills, Act-1 Group has grown into the largest business owned by a black woman. A proponent of global enterprise and information technology, Bryant Howroyd has provided staffing and HR solutions to some of the world’s largest corporations while serving as a mentor to legions of black entrepreneurs.

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