Despite being in a field that many associate with men, women are becoming a major force in entrepreneurship, and they are working to change the ways that many people think about startup culture and achievement.
Women often start companies from a unique perspective that ultimately makes the business world more diverse and robust. Supporting these unique perspectives is extremely important moving forward, especially during a year like 2021 when the entrepreneurial world is recovering from the coronavirus pandemic’s initial impact and still adjusting to a new reality. Some of the women in entrepreneurship to watch this year include the following:
1. Sharon Ourian
A lawyer and real estate investor, Sharon Ourian has made her entrepreneurial impact on the driving school industry.
Most people view traffic school and driver’s education as an inconvenience that just swallows time. Ourian noticed how the industry was suffering and wondered how she could make the process easier. Once she realized she could offer these classes online, she built CyberActive.
In a relatively short period, she has grown CyberActive, an online forum for driving courses, to be available in several states. To date, more than 7 million students have graduated from CyberActive.
Plus, Ourian responded quickly to the pandemic, which made it impossible to have driving lessons in person. She waived setup and licensing fees so that states could continue to teach students on platforms that resembled their own websites.
2. Annetta Powell
An accomplished entrepreneur, Annetta Powell founded real estate investment firm Infinity Properties Group, which has passed more than $50 million in transactions, and published a book about flipping properties. In addition, she has opened five tax franchises.
Today, she is using her success to help new generations of entrepreneurs. Powell’s most recent initiative is called The Wealth Connect, which provides support for budding entrepreneurs. This initiative capitalizes on lessons learned during her own hardships. She used the feeling of defeat to push her to new heights and rebuild a large real estate empire that has helped her achieve her dreams. Now, she focuses on helping other people do the same.
3. Charlene Izere
The child of Rwandan refugees, Charlene worked hard to make ends meet in Boston after college. While working at a nonprofit, she had the idea of becoming an online fitness coach and realized great success despite having virtually no frame of reference or financial support. More recently, she has focused on providing support to other Black entrepreneurs through Melanin & Money. This organization serves as a hub for Black women entrepreneurs to support each other and provides guidance in building a company when there are so many barriers to doing so. Izere is also the founder of Soulful Systems, a boutique online agency for business management, and Wellness Delivered, a self-care and community care business.
4. Arlan Hamilton
A Black woman who is also part of the LGBTQ+ community, Arlan Hamilton understands how challenging it can be for members of this community to find funding. To overcome this barrier, she started Backstage Capital, which works with people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. So far, this firm has invested in more than 130 startups.
Hamilton also cofounded Backstage Studio, which now has accelerator programs in London and several American cities, and wrote a book about how people can turn being underestimated into a clear business advantage. People can access her teachings through free and paid programs on Teachable or get connected to more than 60 startup mentors associated with Backstage Capital.
5. Lizelle van Vuuren
The tech sector has been especially difficult for women entrepreneurs, and the pandemic made matters even worse by presenting new challenges in introducing software solutions. To address this, Lizelle van Vuuren launched Undock, which makes it easy to schedule software demonstrations for time-strapped business owners.
Previously, van Vuuren launched Women Who Startup, a global platform for connecting women to the tools they need to launch their business. In addition, she founded the Women Who Startup Foundation, which helps provide greater access to community events and opportunities for learning and funding. She is also behind the fashion brand Lizelle & Co., which offers clothing with a unique, nautical twist.
6. Kelly Wing
Born and raised in New Zealand, Kelly Wing started working at the age of 12 and maintained several jobs through her college years. She paid off her student loans by 21 and bought her first property a couple of years later. Slowly, Wing built a real estate empire. Now, she lives in Bali and operates Ohwabisabi, a social media platform for creators to share stories and insights with other people around the world. Also, Ohwabisabi Media is a public relations and media firm that helps thought leaders amplify messages through many different channels. Wing takes a unique, intuitive approach to her work that has proven extremely successful, with an impressively large network only five months after its launch.