Doing Good By Doing Well
As you take a glance at your goals for 2024, did you consider setting a goal not just for your own success but also for making a positive impact? It’s amazing how financial success can open doors for giving back and doing good in the world.
There’s a rich history of entrepreneurs using their resources to support their communities. As we celebrate Black History Month, let’s shine a light on one of the pioneers in this tradition – Madam C.J. Walker. She’s often hailed as the “first black woman millionaire,” and her story is truly something.
Madam Walker’s journey wasn’t a walk in the park. She was born as Sarah Breedlove on a Louisiana plantation in 1867, to two freed black parents. Sadly, she lost both her parents by the time she was just seven years old. She got married at 14 and became a widow with a young daughter by the time she turned 20. Tough start, right?
But here’s where it gets interesting. Madam Walker was nearly 40 when her life took a dramatic turn. Can you relate to the idea of hitting your stride later in life? Many successful folks have a similar story, finding their true calling after 35 when they venture into entrepreneurship and work for themselves.
In 1904, Sarah started working as a sales agent for Annie Turnbo’s hair care company. Within two years, she decided to start her own company. The story goes that she had a dream where she received a formula for a hair-growing tonic. Taking that dream to her kitchen, she started making the tonic and selling it door-to-door.
In 1906, Sarah married Charles Joseph Walker and adopted the name Madam C.J. Walker – and that’s when her famous brand was born. She exclusively marketed her products to black women, and Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower became a massive success, raking in annual revenues of $500,000. That was a big deal back then, and it’s impressive even by today’s standards. When she passed away, Madam Walker’s net worth exceeded $1 million.
But it’s not just about the money. Madam Walker’s legacy is all about giving back. She trained over 40,000 black men and women in business and sales. She was a strong advocate for economic independence, especially for black women. She believed in education and supported scholarships for black students at the prestigious Tuskegee Institute. She was also a significant contributor to the NAACP, backing their progressive campaigns, including those against lynching.
As business owners and entrepreneurs, we all can be proud heirs to Madam Walker’s legacy of entrepreneurship and community support. When you’re setting your financial goals, don’t forget to think about how you can contribute to the common good.
What kind of powerful legacy will you leave behind?