There are 2,755 billionaires that currently dominate the business world, according to Forbes’ 2022 list. Some have built enormous wealth through venture capital firms and finance. Others have broken extraordinary ground in film, fashion and the arts. Black entrepreneurs make up a small portion of the world’s wealthiest people. There are 15 Black billionaires that exist around the world. Of those 15, two are women.
Robert Frederick Smith is the billionaire chairman, co-founder and chief executive officer of Vista Equity Partners, a software investing company. Smith tops the list at an astounding $8 billion.
As Vista’s CEO, Smith works around the clock to improve the firm’s strategy, governance and investor relations. So far, the company has generated over $96 billion in assets under his leadership.
Smith’s passion for emerging technology sparked after he landed a prestigious internship at Bell Labs, an innovation and technology company. The business tycoon secured his internship by calling the company every week for five months. An engineer by training, he worked at Kraft Foods and Goodyear Tire before getting his MBA at Columbia University.
Now, Smith is working tirelessly to close the racial wealth gap with the 2 percent solution plan. The ambitious initiative encourages wealthy stakeholders across all major sectors to address historical injustices facing African Americans through a significant infusion of capital into Black communities across the nation.
While the number may be small, it’s still incredible to see Black excellence represented on the list. Some of those billionaires are scaling their booming businesses into corporations that employ and positively impact people from our community. Let’s take a look at a few Black billionaires who are currently changing the world with their incredible wealth.
In August 2021, Grammy-award-winning singer Rihanna made history after she became the first female musician in the world to earn billionaire status. According to Forbes, the Barbados native has a whopping net worth of $1.7 billion, all thanks to the growing Fenty Beauty empire.
The “Umbrella” hitmaker has been sending fans crazy with her Fenty cosmetics line and buzzing lingerie brand Savage X Fenty. This year, the singer is set to venture into the athletic leisure space. She also recently filed a trademark for Fenty Kids, hinting at a possible foray into the children’s clothing industry.
The mother of one may be rich, but she’s always thinking about ways she can help her fans and community members. In 2012, the 34-year-old star founded The Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) which directly supports and funds children’s education, health, and emergency response programs around the world. Customers who shop on the Fenty Beauty site can make a donation to the cause.
Last year, Rih donated $15 million to 18 climate action organizations working in the Caribbean to help fight back against climate change.
“Climate disasters, which are growing in frequency and intensity, do not impact all communities equally, with communities of color and island nations facing the brunt of climate change,” Rihanna said in a statement, according to Variety.
3. Mike AdenugaSource:Getty
Mike Adenuga, Nigeria’s second richest man, built his fortune in telecom and oil production. Forbes estimates that the wealthy businessman’s net worth stands at a whopping $7.3 billion.
His popular mobile phone network, Globacom, is the third-largest operator in Nigeria. Adenuga also owns Conoil producing, a massive oil exploration outfit that operates 6 oil blocks in the Niger Delta.
The 69-year-old’s climb to the 1 percent wasn’t an easy feat. Adenugua obtained his MBA at Pace University in New York, working long days and nights as a taxi driver to support himself.
With hard work and determination, the entrepreneur made his first million at the age of 26, selling soft drinks and lace to customers in need.
Now he continues to pay it forward. In 2020, Adenuga donated $1.5 billion in Nigerian dollars to Federal Government and Lagos State government to support Nigeria’s fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Oprah Winfrey parlayed her popular talk show into a bustling media and business empire. The media personality’s net worth sits at an impressive $2.6 billion thanks to her OWN channel. Winfrey launched the popular network in 2011 and has seen an incredible amount of success since.
The Chicago native also generates profitable assets from her roles in classic films like The Color Purple, Beloved and Selma.
Oprah has a 10 percent stake in Weight Watchers due to her lucrative brand ambassador partnership with the company. She has also amassed her wealth through million-dollar streaming deals with Netflix and Apple TV.
Oprah is always thinking about the future and the children who will ultimately be the future leaders of tomorrow. In 2002, the bustling entrepreneur opened The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. Inspired by her own disadvantaged childhood, Winfrey stated that she founded the Leadership Academy to provide educational and leadership opportunities for academically gifted girls from impoverished backgrounds in South Africa.
5. Michael Lee-ChinSource:Getty
Michael Lee-Chin made his $2 billion dollar net worth investing in financial companies like National Commercial Bank Jamaica and AIC Limited. The Jamaican businessman acquired AIC in 1987 when the company had less than $1 million in assets.
The company has skyrocketed to astronomical heights ever since. In 2002, Lee-Chin helped the Canada-based wealth management and mutual fund oversee more than $10 billion in assets.
Sadly, the firm was hit hard by the 2008 recession, and Lee-Chin was forced to sell AIC to Canadian financial services group Manulife in 2009 for an undisclosed price. He managed to hold onto a valuable 60 percent stake in National Commercial Bank Jamaica, which makes up the majority of his wealth.
Now, Lee-Chin helps to prime future entrepreneurs to success through the Michael Lee-Chin Family Institute for Corporate Citizenship at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. The program “helps current and future business leaders integrate sustainability into business strategy and practices by developing and disseminating research, tools and study materials,” according to Canadian Family Offices.
“Corporate social responsibility is important to me,” Lee-Chin told the outlet about his passion for mentorship. “Corporations should realize that also. Be humble, be respectful, and be caring enough, and empathetic enough, to recognize that their doing well is a function of many things that they had nothing to do with, therefore they have to share. I don’t need a professional advisor to tell me that. These are things that emanate from my basic philosophy. My philosophy is translated into the gifts I make.”
6. Patrice MotsepeSource:Getty
Patrice Motsepe, the founder and chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, became a billionaire in 2008. He was the first black African to grace the Forbes list.
Motsepe has a whopping net worth of $3.3 billion due to his private equity firm, African Rainbow Capital, which focuses on investing in Africa. According to Forbes, Motsepe also has a stake in Sanlam, a listed financial services firm, and is the president and owner of the Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club.
In March 2021, Motsepe was elected to serve as president of the Confederation of African Football, the sport’s governing body on the continent. In the early 90s, the business tycoon made history when he became the first black partner at law firm Bowman Gilfillan in Johannesburg and then started a mining services contracting business.
The South African star has donated much of his wealth to help underserved communities across the motherland. In 2022, Motsepe donated $2 million through his “Motsepe Foundation” to assist communities affected by catastrophic floods in Durban, according to Business Insider.
7. Michael JordanSource:Getty
NBA star Michael Jordan is one of the most decorated NBA players of all time. Jordan won six titles with the Chicago Bulls. During his career, his salary soared to $90 million. But according to Forbes, he earned $1.8 billion (pre-tax) from such corporate partners as Nike, Hanes and Gatorade.
Partnerships and investment opportunities with companies like DraftKings and Nascar have also helped the Chicago native tuck away wads of cash. Jordan, who owns the Charlotte Hornets, agreed to sell a minority stake in a 2019 deal that valued the NBA team at $1.5 billion, the outlet noted.
Now, the athlete turned entrepreneur continues to give back to his fans and the next generation, who look to his career for the blueprint to success.