It is no secret that women are underrepresented in the world of entrepreneurship. From a global perspective, men own about 50% of all businesses while only holding 30% of small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs). And yet, there are plenty of female entrepreneurs who have made their mark on history. 

These entrepreneurs deserve to be celebrated, for they have faced incredible odds and challenges. Here are some top female entrepreneurs and the stories behind them.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah is one of America’s most successful talk show hosts and media moguls. She was born into poverty in Mississippi but found her way to Chicago, where she worked for WLS Radio as an anchorwoman. Her success led her to create her talk show from 1986 until 2011, when she launched her network. She has been ranked as the richest African American of the 20th century. Oprah also made history by being one of the first black women to appear on Forbes’ list of billionaires in 2003. Only a year later, she has listed again as one of America’s most powerful women.

Jessica Santtos

She is a senior at California State University, Long Beach, and is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on Marketing. She is a marketing intern with Vivalux, where she assists in social media marketing, copywriting, and advertising campaigns. Jessica has experience working for various California concert venues and managing her own small business selling clothing online.

Nelly Agbogu

Fondly known as naijabrandchick, she’s a writer, lifestyle blogger, and fashionista. Nelly has worked with major brands such as The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Mercedes Benz USA, Nike, Inc., and Boost Mobile, among others, in marketing capacities. She was invited to the White House twice by President Barack Obama for Black History Month celebrations (2009 & 2011), where she met Oprah Winfrey. The latter inspired her to become an entrepreneur herself.

Nancy Lublin

Nancy Lublin is the CEO and Founder of Crisis Text Line, which provides a free service that allows people in crisis or need support via text message 24/hrs per day. As someone who experienced bullying throughout her childhood and teenage years, Nancy recognized how devastating it could be on young victims leading them to commit suicide rather than face another day of bullying. To address this issue, Nancy founded DoSomething, an organization that encourages young people to take action on social issues they care about via text messaging and other channels.