If you ask someone if they know any women entrepreneur that can compete with the big names in the industry, they would often be stumped for the answer.

Most believe that women have yet to make an impact in business and if there were women who made it big in the industry, they are a few in between.

Down below are some of the world’s top female entrepreneurs and some crazy facts about them that you may not know about.

1. Arianna Huffington (President and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post)

Fact 1: Her first book, “The Female Woman” was written when she was just 22. It spoke about women’s liberation women and why she thinks female emancipation is better rather than liberation.

Fact 2: As a book writer, she did face rejections and it came to a point it happened 37 times. She even lost money in the process and it was only in her 38th attempt did a publisher get her book.

Fact 3: At her offices, she pushes for a healthy work-life balance and added nap rooms and meditation sessions to help her workers stay healthy despite their rigorous schedule.

2. Indra Nooyi (Chairperson and CEO of Pepsi)

Fact 1: She used to play lead guitar for an all girl’s band when she was younger.

Fact 2: To help with her studies and expenses, she worked as a dorm receptionist during graveyard hours.

Fact 3: She owns a karaoke machine at her home and would often sing with it in her free time.

World Economic Forum from Cologny, Switzerland [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

3. Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook)

Fact 1: She assisted Facebook’s growth by handling the operation of the company and reaching their goals.

Fact 2: Before working for Google and Facebook, she actually worked as an aerobics instructor and even as a chief of staff for the US Secretary of Treasury, Larry Summers.

Fact 3: Her mother is her greatest role model. Sandberg’s mother helped her children learn English as their second language, helped her own parents live in comfort and even launched a special non-profit to help young people with hearing loss caused by noise.

4. Sara Blakely (Businesswoman)

Fact 1: Before she released Spanx, she tested the products herself to see how well it works. The prototype she used is now on display at the company’s headquarters.

Fact 2: She tried to get a patent for her invention but found it difficult to find a lawyer who can help her out. She eventually wrote the patent herself and submitted it.

Fact 3: She used to sell photocopiers before she got into inventing her own product. She started it after university and when she was 25, she was regarded as a national sales trainer for photocopiers in the country.

Kaizenify [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

5. Folorunsho Alakija (Businesswoman)

Fact 1: She is the daughter of a chieftain in Nigeria and helped her get good opportunities in education.

Fact 2: She did not go to university, a fact that she is proud to talk about because she said you don’t have to go to one to make it.

Fact 3: Her most lucrative venture is her investment in the oil industry. In 1993, her company was given an oil-exploration permit and their discovery led them to secure a 60% stake in the field’s revenue.

6. Oprah Winfrey (TV show host and business mogul)

Fact 1: She was named after a character in the Book of Ruth, “Orpah.” It only became “Oprah” after people continuously mispronounced it and it stuck.

Fact 2: She was a victim of childhood sexual abuse, which was caused by her male relatives and her mother’s friends. She talked about it in an episode on sexual abuse in 1986.

Fact 3: She is behind the success of intimate talk shows, which many talk shows are now doing during their interviews.

7. Gina Rinehart (Chairman of Hancock Prospecting)

Fact 1: She is a college dropout but had worked for her father in his mining company. She did get booted out for five years after her father married their former maid Rose Lacson, which she did not support.

Fact 2: She is very cautious about her security and has bodyguards who used to be in the SAS. Even her house, office and cars are bulletproof.

Fact 3: She had several legal battles involving family members. When her father died in 1992, she battled against her stepmother Rose Porteous over the distribution of her father’s estate. She also got into a legal fight regarding the trusteeship of the Hope Margaret Hancock Trust.

8. Tory Burch (Fashion Designer)

Fact 1: Burch did not major in design or management, graduating in art history from Penn State.

Fact 2: Her Oprah interview became her first big break thanks to one of her PR managers giving Oprah accessories from the lineup as a gift.

Fact 3: Her family played a big role in her design process. Her children, for example, inspired her to build pieces that has masculine touches. She also named the Reva Flats after her mother.

David Shankbone [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D

9. Vera Wang (Bridal Wear Designer)

Fact 1: Wang used to compete in the US National Figure Skating Championships before she got into designing clothes. Even today, figure skating remains as one of her favorite past-times.

Fact 2: She got into bridal wear when she found herself looking for the perfect wedding dress for her 1898 wedding to her then-boyfriend Arthur Becker. She sketched her own dress and got it made for $10,000. She ended up opening her Atelier a year later.

Fact 3: Wang is also very popular in pop culture, appearing in several shows herself and dressing some of the world’s most iconic characters like in Sex and the City and Gossip Girl.

10. Martha Stewart (TV personality, author and businesswoman)

Fact 1: To pay for her studies, she worked as a part-time model when she was 13 years old. She continued as a model until she finished college.

Fact 2: She used to work on Wall Street as a stockbroker until 1972 before she got into cooking and her other ventures.

Fact 3: When it comes to her eating habits, Stewart has some guilty pleasures like eating pickled herring, American cheese and drinking buttermilk.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/worldeconomicforum/7981947606/

11. Yang Lan (Talk Show Host and Co-Owner of the Sun Media Group)

Fact 1: Before she became a talk show host, she studied international economics. While she started a variety show during this time, she did quit after moving to New York and finished her studies in Columbia University.

Fact 2: Despite the fact China has the strictest media laws, she is never afraid to talk about sensitive topics. Some of her shows are online since the Internet is not as restrictive.

Fact 3: She is called the “Oprah of China” because she hosts two major talk shows and a company much like Oprah in the US.

12. Cher Wang (CEO of HTC)

Fact 1: She actually helped start several companies aside from HTC. In 1987, she helped start VIA, a motherboard manufacturer. It remains as a top independent motherboard manufacturer in the world.

Fact 2: She regularly donates to charity and has donated to her alma mater and several colleges in China and Taiwan. One of her donations aims to help studies on condensed-matter physics.

Fact 3: Before she was named CEO of HTC, she was already the Chairperson of HTC America.

13. Tan Hooi Ling (Co-founder of Grab)

Fact 1: Ling used to suffer from asthma when she was young and used physical activities to keep her fit. During her teenage years, she switched sports regularly and even became a member of the state team.

Fact 2: Although she co-founded Grab, she mostly prefers staying on the sidelines. She is an introvert and her team is aware just how much it drains her to appear in public, so everything is scheduled to ensure she keeps on going.

Fact 3: Engineering is really her calling and even have a mechanical engineering degree. However, she realized that business managers were the ones behind key decision and inspired her to take a master’s program in finance and management.

Women can also do what men can do in industries that used to be taboo for them. These women proved that nothing is impossible if one strives hard to reach for it.

Look out next Monday for our Little Known Facts of Famous Male Entrepreneurs!

Fascinated? We have plenty more interesting articles here:
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36 replies on “Little Known Facts of Famous Female Entrepreneurs

  1. Here’s a terrific one from the UK:
    Karen Brady
    Voted Business Woman of the Year, Ultimate Entrepreneur and rated among the 50 most inspirational people in the world, she is passionate about business and the promotion of women in business in the UK.

    Karren is CEO of West Ham United Football Club, one of the leading London Premier League football clubs and currently valued at £800,000,000. She has also previously been a key consultant for Syco Entertainment, a company jointly owned by Simon Cowell and Sony Music Entertainment.

    Lady Brady was made a life peer by the Prime Minister, entering the House of Lords in 2014 and received a CBE from the Queen for her services to business, entrepreneurship and women in business.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. This is quite a list! I love how the facts listed communicate how these women have succeeded professionally but also add humanizing touches, like Indra Nooyi’s karaoke machine and how Tory Burch’s children inspired certain design elements. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. An excellent post! It’s encouraging to see that there are those that are willing to believe in themselves and the path they have chosen despite the difficulty in living in an unbalanced social environment. Many bows to these women.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thank you. I’d like to add the name of the italian Marisa Bellisario, first woman CEO in Italy. She did a great job in Olivetti and, later, in Italtel, a big elecrtomechanical industry: she transformed an old and loss making company in a modern one with large profits. She always worked for equality between men and women. She died for cancer at the age of 53. Now there is a foundationa and several prizes with her name

    Liked by 3 people

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