Since 1973, Black Enterprise has published a listing of the nation’s largest black-owned businesses and over the years the BE 100s list has boasted some of the biggest and baddest female entrepreneurs from Ernesta Procope to Eunice Johnson to Oprah Winfrey. Not to mention the richest African American women in business, owning multi-million dollar businesses.
In fact, the number one female BE 100s, Janice Bryant Howroyd , became the first to own and operate a company that generates more than $1 billion dollars in revenues. Her company, Act-1 Group, the Torrance, California-based global staffing firm, holds the No. 2 spot on the 2014 industrial/service ranking, grossing $2.3 billion in 2013.
How did Act-1 get there? When Act-1 became our BE Industrial/Service Company of the Year in 2012, Howroyd said it took meeting the demands of corporate giants like Merck and AT&T; designing customized services that deliver maximum results; and increasing its international presence.
Across the board, women-owned businesses are serious players in this nation’s economy. According to the Center for Women’s Business Research and the National Women’s Business Council, more than 9.1 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly 7.9 million people, and generating $1.4 trillion in sales as of 2014. About 2.9 million firms are majority-owned by women of color in the U.S. These firms employ 1.4 million people and generate $226 billion in revenues annually.
However, women-owned businesses continue to lag men-owned businesses, and are under-represented in the top revenue categories. Just one in five firms with revenue of $1 million or more is women-owned. Put another way, only 4.2 % of women-owned firms have revenues over $1 million.
Sharing some lessons on how black women can build a million dollar business is the focus of this year’s SistersInc panel at the Entrepreneurs Summit (May 13-16) in Atlanta. On hand for this women of the BE 100s discussion are Rumia Ambrose-Burbank, President of VMS365 and Founder of Sole de Frio, Dr. Krystal Conner, CEO of Enviro AgScience , and Jenell Ross, President of Bob Ross Auto Group .
Troy, Michigan-based VMS365 ranks no. 60 on the industrial/service list with materials and inventory management firm generating $53.7 million in revenues in 2013 and $59.4 million in 2014. The family-owned construction and landscaping firm out of Columbia, South Carolina, Enviro AgScience grossed $28.8 million in 2014, while BE 100s auto dealer, no 24 on the list, grossed 66.7 million in 2013 and in 2014. Alongside her brother, Ross operates the family business founded by their father in 1972, an authorized Buick, GMC, Mercedes-Benz, Alfa Romeo and FIAT Auto dealer, based in Southwestern, Ohio
At the Entrepreneurs Summit, these women of the BE100s will not only share lessons learned but will provide tips on raising capital and building a brand. They will share some insights on how to take calculated risks and to form strategic partnerships to scale the business.
The Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit hosted by Nationwide is set for May 13–16, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. Expect innovative sessions, high-powered speakers, and an early peek at the products, trends, and services you’ll need to stay ahead of the curve. To register and find out more, visit www.blackenterprise.com/es/. Join us at the Entrepreneurs Summit, Where Innovation and Capital Meet.